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Holiday Feasts Across Africa

Christmas is a time of joy, laughter and lots of food. What is a mega holiday without more food than people know what to do with? The most amazing thing about food at Christmas is that the things you ate throughout the year suddenly develops a special flavour, spiced by the fun and excitement in the air.

And it is not a feast if you don’t have lots of people gathering around the table and around the assorted dishes. The more the merrier! What’s that saying about there being more fun in sharing?

Special Christmas Meals Across the African Continent

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The holiday delicacies vary from country to country, but there is a common thread running through these feasts – food is prepared with so much pomp!

These countries are famous for their special Christmas meals.


You will be hard pressed to find a Christmas feast without rice. It can be jollof rice, rice and tomato stew, coconut rice or fried rice. Sometimes you may even find all four types! The meat of choice is chicken, of course, and it prepared in many different ways. The most popular method of preparing Christmas chicken in Nigeria is by marinating it in spicy sauce and frying it when it would have absorbed all the flavors!


Nigerian soups reign on the Christmas feast table, too. Surf and turf soups (meaning they are filled with huge chunks of meat and pieces of fish) are served with either eba or fluffy pounded yam. Church happens on Christmas mornings, and then the celebrations come later.


No one does Christmas better than the Ghanaians! Christmas in Ghana is all about feasting and making merry. On Christmas eve, families gather together and get things started by sharing a light Christmas dinner, but there is usually nothing light about the whole process. Chicken stew with rice is the meal of choice, but some families are known to up things by including goat meat in the list of offerings.

On Christmas day, church service takes centerstage in the morning, but the real feast begins soon after. Christmas day foods include fufu, okra soup and peanut soup. Meat options include chicken, beef, pork, etc. The kids at the table can stuff themselves full of these offerings and later nibble on sweets given to them by Father Christmas.


Christmas is pretty special in Ethiopia. For one, since the country follows the old Julian calendar, Christmas is celebrated a little later on January 7. This day is also known as Ganna. The day before Christmas, people fast the whole day. On Christmas morning, everyone wears a traditional wrap called the shamma, before heading out to Christmas service in church.

Popular Christmas treats are wat, spicy stew made with meat and vegetables, and eggs. The food is usually as colorful as the plates in which they are served. Flat bread, also known as injera, are also used to wrap the food or scoop it from the plate. Christmas in Ethiopia is as tasty as it is colorful!

South Africa

South Africa is famous for multi-course Christmas meals that tickle the taste buds. It is perfectly okay if you eat till you have to be cut out of your clothes. South Africa’s famous chakalaka is a perfect accompaniment for all the other Christmas meals on the table. It goes very well with BBQ!

Potjiekos may look and feel like a stew, but it is really not a stew. This meat and vegetable meal is slow-cooked in giant cast iron pots. Potjiekos is very easy to prepare, so even the most unskilled cook can whip it up for Christmas. What is Christmas without vetkoek? This fluffy pastry is deep-fried in oil stuffed with mince, then it is glazed with honey, syrup or jam.

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Christmas is also known as Sekukkulu in Uganda, but the difference in name does not make it any less exciting! The party begins on the 24th of December and continues till the 25th and beyond. Ugandans don’t put much stock on exchange of gifts during Sekukkulu, the emphasis is on community, sharing, new clothes, and food, of course!

As stated before, the celebrations start on the 24th, when the exiting aroma of food wafts out from every home. Lifestock like goats, sheep and chickens, which had been earmarked for the festivities. It wouldn’t be a Ugandan celebration if there were no cooked green bananas and matoke. The cooked bananas are masked and recooked with the leaves, and this gives it the uniquely Ugandan flavor.


Christmas food in Kenya is usually enjoyed under some bright holiday decorations. Families gather around the table and enjoy goat, lamb, beef or chicken barbecue. These juicy meats are not eaten alone, of course, as there is always rice and chapatti on the table. Enter the super-popular Christmas meal – the nyama choma. Nyama choma can simply be referred to as roasted meat, but the simple name does not do this tasty delight any flavors. Ingredients include curry powder, turmeric, black pepper, lemon juice and garlic. Each bite is a taste of heaven!

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One word best describes Christmas in Mauritius, and that word is ‘delicious’. Mauritius comes alive at Christmas, seeing as hordes of tourists descend on the tropical paradise during the holidays. In between frolicking in the beautiful waters of Mauritius and soaking up the sun, Christmas is also characterized by food so good you’ll be tempted to extend your vacation.

Seafood reigns supreme here, so expect culinary delights like king prawn rougaille and octopus curry. Rougaille is the best tomato-based sauce you will ever taste. It is prepared with spices like ginger, garlic, thyme and coriander. The spices simply explode in the mouth! These spices, when stirred into the king prawns, are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. This sauce is also paired with beef or chicken sausages.

Christmas in Africa will stoke your five senses and leave you with unforgettable memories!