In Cameroon, I spent most of my life in a boarding school—which is relatively in fashion. We were normally released from the jail—as we called it—a couple of days before Christmas day. After spending almost 4 months in school, we were just too excited to go back home for Christmas, the time when you get to eat and drink those things you normally would rarely eat and drink outside of Xmas, Easter and Assumption (“Big Day Maria” as it is locally called) worse of all in school.
We normally spend the few days before Christmas cleaning in and around the house—removing cobwebs, dusting the louvers and decorating our Christmas tree—a cypress tree, which is the conifer common in that area as opposed to the fir tree in other areas.
Over there, a simple Xmas tree is adorned with Xmas lights and balloons as opposed to Xmas lights and ornaments over here. I said this same thing to a couple of people the other day and one of them kind of exclaimed “Balloons?” and I told her “Yes, balloons”. Well, I neither know the history of the balloons nor the ornaments but when I compare a simple Xmas tree decked with lights and multicoloured balloons with that decked with lights and ornaments, all I notice are beautifully decorated Xmas trees. :)
Over there, it is common to attach candies on the Xmas tree. Apparently, when I visit anybody’s house, the first place I go to is the Xmas tree in order to harvest something from it. :)
I can’t remember if I used to go to Church on the 24th but there is nothing so some special about the 24th apart from the preparations for the 25th.
Now when it comes to gifts, those days are long gone. When we were kids, what was really common to receive from our parents was our Christmas dress and that was usually before Christmas. Xmas was the day to put on your best outfit (as kids). I had some permanent Xmas toys my mom used to give me during this period. She normally confiscated them afterwards only to release them again during the next Xmas season. :mad: Well, it wasn’t annoying as such. Instead it made Xmas a wonder period since I get to have at my disposal those things that I so desired.
As I grew older, it soon became history. So for us or better still in our family, we don’t exchange presents as they do over here.
Now comes Christmas day, 25th December. It is the day we actually celebrate and not the 24th. It used to be my best day on earth.
We normally have a buffet that comprised of our best or 1st class dishes. We mostly had a similar buffet only on Easter and 15th August.
Xmas is like an open day over there. Actually, it is one of those days we leave our front door wide open. The door blind is only drawn to prevent dust from swirling in.
We spend part of the day with our extended family—at least 20 relatives. :) The other part of the day is spent visiting neighbours and friends. It is common to find children playing outside with seasonal balloons.
Similarly, there is nothing so special about New Year’s Eve—at least in the countryside where we live. In the big towns, they probably have some midnight activities. For us, we celebrate New Year’s Day itself. Again, it’s all about visiting friends or welcoming visitors.
After New Year, most (if not all) of the balloons on the Xmas tree must have burst or shrank. All the candies must have vanished. So it is common to get rid of the tree after New Year shortly before returning back to school.
By Epiphany, schools have already resumed so it is also just a normal Sunday.