Everyone knows about the overseas white Christmas but we don’t document enough of what we do here at home. That thankfully is changing now thanks to our wonderful bloggers. They’ve given us a series of short stories reflecting on what their Christmas’ used to look like and the traditions that still continue now.
Clothes Were The Cream Of Christmas: My Reflections Of Christmas
Written by Wada Kealotswe– A family oriented lady who enjoy spending time with children.
There’s no feeling like you get towards the end of the year, especially growing up. My memory is of the rainy season and the greenery of the mophane tree. That of a buzzing insect that I used to chase from tree to tree to eat it…Then I knew Christmas was about to be here.
I always waited eagerly for my Christmas clothes to arrive from the city. There was always this throat drying reprimand “if you don’t do well at school there will be no clothes”. When the day the royal robes arrived, we would fit them and the joy that accompanied this you can’t explain. It was because it was rare that we had new clothes and shoes. The clothes came in pairs for Christmas and New Year. My grandmother would keep them in her room but any time I could I would sneak in and fit them again.
Christmas food was also top of the list mostly rice, mayonnaise, tomato sauce and the Oros drink. A few days before Christmas uncles and aunts who lived in city would arrive each carrying plastics with city foods. As days moved swiftly, excitement would be up. There would be cleaning of the yard as well as selecting chickens and goats to be slaughtered for the day.
As a child it was hard to sleep thinking of the new clothes. When the big day arrived we would all be up in the morning to start preparing for the day. The aunts would be quarreling who is doing what duty. For the children we had nothing to do only imagining ourselves in our beautiful two pieces.
I don’t know why in those days most of the children’s clothing was so formal. It looked like you were going to the office, it was a blouse and a matching skirt as for boys it was pants and shirt or even a suit. The surprising part of it after getting ready we would just be at home enjoying our new clothes. Sometimes we would meet in a corner with other children examining each other’s attire whether it had pockets or not. We would discuss the food our parents prepared. It was blissful. When night time came it would be so difficult parting with the clothes, instead we would sleep in them. Those were the days.
We Get Dressed For Christmas
Written by Ndibo Tebape– A young mother of a three-year-old little boy and a passionate writer.
Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. I have two older sisters who have children of their own. That means that whenever this time of year comes around, we look forward to an overcrowded living room filled with anxious children. All of them waiting to open their presents.
Normally, in Botswana, families that live in the large towns or cities, travel to their villages or home towns for Christmas. This is usually where their parents or grandparents were born and also where extended family live. Every year for Christmas, my family travels to a village called Serowe. We spend Christmas with our grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins.
On Christmas morning, the children wake up bright and early. Obviously running on less hours of sleep than usual because the wait until the following morning is too much! If the grown-ups are still fast asleep, they will be forced awake by a child screaming, “It’s Christmas! Wake up every one!” or something along those lines. Everyone from my parents down to their grandchildren, still dressed in pajamas, gathers in the living room to start unwrapping.
The kids get all sorts of gifts from toys to clothes to books. And every year without fail, a brand-new set of clothes has to be worn on Christmas day. This was the tradition with my sisters and I when we were growing up. So there was no way that we would let it skip our own children.
After opening up presents, we get ready for a big Christmas lunch with the whole family. Usually, the family gathers at my grandmother’s house, where we begin preparing the lunch. Last year however, the family drove to Palapye, where we had lunch at a hotel called “Majestic Five.” At our family Christmas lunches, we feast, dance and laugh all our worries away as we enjoy each other’s company.
Christmas day has always been an exciting time of year for my family. Although we are large in number, we are all very close and always look forward to spending quality time with one another.
Our Christmas Traditions: Slaughtered Goats And New Clothes
Written By Sekgele Kekgobilwe– A 25 year old full time medical laboratory technician who has a love for writing.
As in most parts of the world, Christmas is one of the most recognised and celebrated holidays here in Botswana. It’s the most festive and joyous time of the year. For most people, me included, Christmas is about family time and extended home visits. In our family it’s the time for family gatherings, festive parties, farm visits and dikhwaere.
I remember a time back in the day when Christmas was really special. It was the one time of the year when food tasted better, conversations got louder and for most the only time we got new clothes and hairstyles. All the people working at the city would come home and bring with the different goodies. It was the one day that made up for all the village struggles of that year. Despite the change in lifestyle and city life, some of our oldest Christmas family traditions are still practiced every year when we get together. Those are the traditions that remind us of where we’ve come from and how far we have grown as a family.
Every year our family gathers at my grandmother’s family home for a whole week of family time. Most arrive on Christmas Eve to make it for the first of our oldest family traditions. It is that of the morning Christmas tea. We brew a big pot of tea at the fire with goat milk. The last person to wake up for Christmas tea has to milk the goats for the tea. This tradition was initiated by my late grandfather. It is the time when we get to sit together and update each other about our year and life away from home, past events and future plans. This is by far still one of my favourite traditions. It’s the one chance when we all get to sit down under a tree and talk and laugh together.
Next follows the Christmas lunch. Every lady helps with the cooking and the men visit the cattle post to find a goat to be slaughtered for our annual Christmas evening party. Our family still makes real effort during Christmas lunches. It is still the best lunch of the year, despite all the developments and changes of modern world. Before lunch is served, all the kids have a bath and are wearing new Christmas clothes and the men back from cattle post. The lunch is the followed by tea for the adults and the kids walk to the main kgotla to watch traditional choir competitions (dikhwaere). The men remain to slaughter the goat and prepare for a braai and ladies start on other preparations. The party can go all night with a bonfire, dancing, laughter and chatter.
My second favourite tradition happens on Boxing Day, after all the dancing is over. My grandmother wakes up early and walks to the farm, not too far from our village. She takes the kids and whoever is awake with her, for first early field crop harvest to take back to the city. Our family ploughs every year, so I make sure never to miss this trip despite how tired I am from previous day. Boxing Day lunch is prepared with the food harvested that day and the slaughtered goat meat. For me this is by far the best way to end my Christmas, it reminds me of the old days when field crop food was all we had to live off.
From us at Family Gems we’d like to say thank you to our bloggers for giving us their stories. If you enjoyed reading them have a look at part 1 of the series Christmas Traditions: What We Do In Botswana. There are more wonderful tales that are truly unique to our country.
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