Soon we will be in December and the end-of-year celebrations will come knocking in their numbers. Every where you turn, there will be one gathering or the other calling for your participation. As a blog, we don’t think it is too early to start talking about these festivities. So we have come up with a line-up of articles that will help everyone who will be celebrating this period prepare well.
As a people, Nigerians love to have a good time. It is the same reason they seize almost every opportunity to celebrate. For them, the joy that comes from shopping, cooking, having to dress up and go visiting is unmatchable. So men and women organize big parties and boys and girls wear fine clothes.
In Nigeria from the south-east and south-west, there are a lot of celebrations; some of which are The New Yam Festival, Age Grade Inductions, Child Dedications and Weddings. But the biggest of them all is the Christmas Celebrations. For this big one, Nigerians work and save all year round so they can spend lavishly on this day. Family members who have not seen themselves in a while travel long distances to meet up and to commune.
Christmas in Nigeria
Christmas Day is a public holiday in Nigeria which is always marked by the emptying of towns and cities as Nigerians that have been successful return to their ancestral villages to be with extended family members and to bless the less fortunate. As the towns and cities empty, people jam the West African markets to buy and transport live chickens, goats and cows that will be needed for the Christmas meals.
Most families throw Christmas parties that will last all night long on Christmas Eve! Then on Christmas morning, they go to church and give thanks to God. Homes and streets are often decorated. Some homes even set up artificial Christmas trees.
For the children, it is a time of great rejoicing. They get to see their grandparents, older relatives and cousins and they get to visit places. They look forward to it because it is the only time in a year that they get to go to the village. And it is during this time that they get to experience their cultures and traditions first hand.
The question now is what is the tradition behind waiting till the end of the year to take one’s children to meet with family. What happened to spreading the visits across birthdays and graduation ceremonies for example? Lastly, where in the constitution is it stated that children can only be given opportunity to learn culture at the end of the year?
Well, because this is an opinion piece, everyevery.ng spoke with some Nigerians in Abuja and below are their responses to the question “Do you think Christmas is a good time to take your children home?”
“Christmas and the New Year Celebrations lasts only two weeks. So parents think two weeks once every year is all they need to teach their children the laws of the land. And who says that they have to visit the village to learn when they live with their parents in town who can easily teach them”.
Mr. Ibeh John
“I’m not sure you understand the gravity of what you are proposing. The moment parents stop taking their children to the village during this time, our cultures and traditions will go extinct. How else do they learn?”
Mrs. Okereke Priscilla
“Nigerians are very busy and Christmas is the only time everyone is at home. It is a national holiday everyone recognizes so everyone gets a chance to meet and share experiences”.
“Everything I know about my culture, I learnt as a child from my annual visits with my parents to the village. Usually, it is during this time that everybody who is somebody is around and every tradition that matters is exhibited. Just by participating in small rituals and traditions, children can learn a lot”.
“Parents who take their children home in this time just deceive themselves. How much can a child learn in less than two weeks about a culture you never mention to them all through the year? After that time, till the next year again. I believe that all a child needs to know about their culture, they can learn from their parents”.
Well, I want to see this from the point of security. During Christmas, everybody is on the road. That’s when you will hear of accidents left, right and center. No good parent should expose their children to that kind of torture. Except of course you are travelling with your private car.
Madam Chinelle Beauty Parlor
But is that really true? How much can a child learn in the space of one week when there are so many things to distract them? It is not like in these times, there is a chaperon to take them around to name or label things for them. They are left to themselves, and mostly to their phones.
Learn what? Don’t you know it is a common practice for parents to warn their children to stay away from relatives for fear of poisoning and the rest. The fears their parents have concerning their relatives; they transfer to the children. So those ones stay away. Most of them spend their days playing games on their tablets. And when it is time, they leave without learning a thing.
We are a very traditional and cultural people. Talk about people from the East, West, North or South – we are all the same. Our culture is what binds us and it is something that has kept us from external influences. So we will continue to teach our children what we know. If it is only once a year that we get the chance to do so, we will. The plan is to be intentional and not allow our children rot, because our traditions contain principles that build the best social behaviors.
By the way, never compare a child’s brain to that of an adult. In their youth, they can grab and retain a whole lot of things. That’s the reason why people often say “catch them young”. Just know that a man or woman without culture does not have a future. You will have to know where you are coming from to have a clear picture of where you are headed.
We want to hear from you. Do you think Christmas is a good time to take your children home for any reason? Please leave your comments in the comments section below.