Holidays are traditions that mean so much to people all over the world – they play critical roles in our cultures, help form foundations within our families and societies, and connect our histories with the present. Not only does the meaning of each Holiday vary by culture, so are how they are celebrated. This year, the spotlight is on Malawi and we want to share their festivities with you!
Over 80% of Malawi’s population are Christian and just like in many other parts of the world, Christmas is one of the days people look forward to most in Malawi. For some, the festivities begin in church on Christmas Eve singing carols in both Chichewa and English, depending of the location or preference of the church. All gather together Christmas morning for a special church service that includes a re-enactment of the Christmas story by local children. After the Christmas service, put on your dancing shoes! A Malawian Christmas would not be complete without music and dance, whether it’s traditional dances performed by the community or talent shows called variety or “V-show” performed by the youth.
On Christmas day, Malawi’s staple food called Nsima, is replaced by chicken and rice on many tables, even in the ruralest of villages. Aside from the variety of local beers brewed by villagers, the most popular beverage on Christmas Day in Malawi is…you guessed it… Fanta!
Despite our love for this bubbly beverage, our favorite part of Christmas in Malawi is the love displayed in giving back. Spreading the Christmas spirit well beyond your own family and friends is important in Malawi, and is common for the more fortunate to provide meals for people in the poorer communities.
In Malawi, Christmas is celebrated through December 31st, when communities come together for the new year…but don’t forget Boxing Day!
Boxing Day, originating in Britain, is a public holiday celebrated on December 26th and is sometimes called “The second day of Christmas” or St. Stephen’s Day. The specific origin of Boxing Day isn’t known, but theories point to the name as a reference to holiday gifts. Elaine Lemm explains in The Spruce that, “A ‘Christmas Box’ in Britain is a name for a Christmas present. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.”
Whether it’s a Holiday founded in religion or simply a cultural celebration, it is important to showcase the country’s traditions and religion through music, art and dance. There is no celebration in Malawi quite like Chilimike. The Chilimike celebrations* are Malawi’s New Year festivities, enjoyed on January 1st as a public holiday. As in the rest of Africa, the festivities begin on New Year’s Eve with street parties, traditional music, fireworks and lots of eating and drinking.
No matter where you are around the world, our team here at The Hamels Foundation hopes your Holidays have been merry and wishes you all a Happy New Year!