by Sr. Josephine Nabisere Uganda 22.12.2021
Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate Christmas on 25th December every year. This celebration starts as early as November whereby the sound of Christmas songs is heard across the country. Some shops are colourful with Christmas decorations. The Christmas trees are seen in public places. A few workers receive their Christmas tokens and celebrate Christmas with them beforehand.
Christmas is Celebrated by all Christians. The parishes organize the people to celebrate Christmas by offering advent retreats, summons and confessions. Surprisingly, non-Christians too wait eagerly to celebrate. They prepare themselves by buying food, clothes etc. However, many people cannot afford to do all this especially in rural areas.
Traditionally, food is very important in almost all cultures of Uganda. For instance, in the Central religion, Christmas is referred to as “Ssekukulu” meaning a higher feast day. People keep bananas “Matooke” suited for the day. Fathers ensure there is enough meat, rice, and drinks. On Christmas day some people gather and enjoy alcohol together, attend films and watch football etc
The dressing code varies depending on where you are, the culture and the setting. In the traditional way in the central region men wear a long outfit “Kanzu” and a court while women put on a traditional dress, “Gomesi”. Children wear the best clothes; their parents can afford.
During Christmas time, there is a lot of movement as many people leave the city and go back to their rural homes to celebrate with their extended family members. People from the city carry with them gifts and some provisions to their family.
The people fill the churches to celebrate Christmas. Christmas starts with the vigil mass usually from 8pm depending on individual parishes. Christmas drama is performed in some parishes symbolizing the events that took place at the birth of Jesus. Some people are baptized during the vigil mass.
Nevertheless, all the above celebrations were more realistic before the pandemic of Cov-19. The movement now is minimal; poverty is plenty due to joblessness as a result of lock down. Generally, there is a low mood as the Pandemic has affected nearly everybody in Uganda. Business is not as vibrant as before, the schools are still closed, so children who longed to go home for Christmas are already home for a long time. It is crucial with all these challenges to ponder on the following quote from Pope Benedict.
“My first wish,” he said, “is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, rest not only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God. “He said that “God never forgets us, but he also asks that we don’t forget him. “The Pope’s second wish was that everyone remembers that we “need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness. “The light that “truly illuminate our hearts” and give us “firm and sure hope” can only be found in “the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we receive Him anew,” he said. “My final wish,” concluded the Pope, “is that each of us contributes something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighbourhoods, towns and cities.” (Pope Benedict’s Christmas wish of 9th December, 2011.)