Santa Claus and Christmas Traditions Around the World: Christmas in Ghana Edition
Updated: 12 hours ago
Have you noticed something in shops lately? Michael Buble is playing. Malls are starting to tease their Christmas campaigns. You may have even seen some mistletoe-themed decor.
I know Autumn isn't over yet, but here at House of Kringle, we believe in the magic of Christmas and Santa Claus, and we can't help but be excited about all that holiday cheer right around the corner.
Have you ever wondered how Christmas is celebrated around the world? Let's explore different Christmas traditions together. The first stop on Santa's explorative tour is Ghana. Christmas in Ghana coming right up!
Do People in Ghana Celebrate Christmas?
You bet they do! Christianity is the biggest religion in Ghana, with more than 70% of the population being part of Christian denominations, according to a 2021 census.
However, since Ghana has its own unique culture, Christmas traditions look a little different on this side of the world. There are even differing traditions all throughout the country. In this article, we're giving you the broad strokes of what looks like for many people. People all over Ghana speak over 66 different languages, and differences in language often come along with, you guessed it, different traditions. (Don't worry, we'll teach you how to say merry Christmas in Akan further along in this article!) You're definitely about to hear a lot of Christmas carols in various accents and dialects!
When is Christmas Celebrated in Ghana?
Have you ever wondered how Santa managed to make so many stops at Christmas? Much of that is due to reindeer magic, but the fact that people in Ghana celebrate Christmas from December 20th to the first week in January also helps! Christmas in Ghana is a marathon, not a sprint.
One of the reasons the celebrations last for such a long time in Ghana is that the Christmas period directly intersects with the end-of-year cocoa harvest. You may even consider the cocoa harvest the official kick-off to the sparkling season. There's a whole lot of celebrating to be done this time of the year. Walking around a Ghanan neighborhood during this period, you'll spot lots of colorful ornaments, electric LED lights, and festive candles.
Do you know what's missing? Christmas trees aren't a common sight in homes in Ghana. They don't go with the climate. Decorated trees tend to be reserved for shopping malls and hotel lobbies. Sometimes you'll spy a Christmas tree in the town center decorated with paper ornaments made by the local children in school. That doesn't mean Christmas in Ghana isn't accompanied by plenty of decor and color.
Ghana was one of the first Black African countries to gain independence, so they proudly combined Christmas traditions from a colonial past with their own unique practices.
Ghana is a vast country, and many people spend the festive period visiting friends and family. You may think that most people try to visit their family during the Christmas period. Still, Christmas in Ghana takes this to another level, with many people spending hours waiting to board buses to their destinations. The fact that the official festive period lasts a little longer means there's a little less chaos. People end up being able to see everyone, or most everyone, as the year draws to a close.
Christmas Eve in Ghana
Despite the official period of Christmas in Ghana being a little longer than in many other places on Earth, Christmas Eve is still a remarkable time with its unique traditions. Our favorite Christmas Eve tradition we've is the Ghanese parade. This iconic street carnival celebrates the best of Ghanese culture with people dressed in masks, marching through the street while dancing and playing brass band music. These costumes show off just how much merriment is in the air!
Christmas Day in Ghana
Christmas in Ghana is a very holy occasion, especially Christmas Day. There are church services all over the country. People will be attending in their best clothing. If people aren't attending church in person that morning, various media outlets broadcast the best Christmas day church services to allow everyone to participate in the merriment.
After church, these Ghanese people get together with their families to eat a traditional Christmas meal. Usually, this is a spicy chicken stew with rice, yams, and fufu, as well as plenty of drinks, cookies, and cakes.
Are you wondering what fufu is? Fufu, also known as foofoo or foufou, is a west African side dish made from yuca. Making yuca into fufu creates a smooth, elastic, dough-like consistency. It would make a perfect international Christmas side dish to include in your spread!
Santa Claus, Father Christmas, or Papa Bronya?
Beloved Santa Claus is also a part of Christmas in Ghana, but here he is known as Papa Bronya.
He comes dressed in a red robe trimmed with gold accents and befitting for the West African weather; he wears sandals! To top it all off, Papa Bronya also wears a sash in a traditional pattern and a white cloak with a hood.
Papa Bronya knows whether you've been naughty or nice, and he's ready to hand out presents. However, the gifts are more likely to be edible treats rather than toys.
How to Say Merry Christmas in...?
Saying Merry Christmas in Ghana can be a little bit complicated. Remember those 66-plus languages spoken throughout the land?
The most common Christmas greeting you're likely to hear in Ghana is "Afishapa!" This phrase is Akan, one of Ghana's most commonly spoken languages, and translates to "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"
Another common thing you'll hear children shout for Christmas in Ghana is, "Egbona hee, egogo vo." This translates to, "Christ is coming; he is near."
About: House of Kringle
Here at House of Kringle, we love teaching you about Christmas traditions from all over the world. We hope you enjoyed this little foray into what Christmas in Ghana is like. No matter where you find yourself this Christmas season, we hope you share some Ghanese Christmas facts with your loved ones this jolly season.
Santa and his elves would love to hear what your favorite Ghanese Christmas tradition is in the comments below. Is there a country whose Christmas traditions you want us to explore?