Have you ever wondered what used to go on in Nigeria before the inception of Christmas? Or maybe you never realized that Christmas was not always celebrated in Nigeria since the country was created.
Fun fact, the first Christmas was celebrated in Nigeria in 1842. The Christmas service was held under an Agia tree. A tree that served as a worship centre for the Christians in Badagry, Lagos, at the time. Consequently, that’s the first evidence that Christmas has not always been like we love to imagine.
Taking the imagination wider, alongside the fact that Nigerians can’t do without merry and jolly and festivity, how do you imagine a December in Nigeria without the Christmas euphoria? Don’t think too much, this article provides the answer – the festivals that existed in Nigeria before Christmas.
Festivals Celebrated Before Christmas in Nigeria
December wasn’t always with Christmas. However, Nigeria wasn’t a bore without Christmas. These festivals have been celebrated in Nigeria for centuries, and they include – the Yewa Festival, the Ogun Festival, the Egungun Festival, and also, the New Yam festival.
During these celebrations, traditional music, dancing, and artwork are all part of the festivities. And the best part is that everyone, from young children to elderly citizens, can join in the fun. Just like Christmas!
The Egungun Festival
The Egungun Festival is an annual celebration in Nigeria that takes place in December. Or more accurately, between November and April. It was and is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Nigeria among the Yorubas. They gather together to honour the spirits of their ancestors.
The festival is full of dancing and singing, with people wearing colourful costumes and masks. That’s little compared to the Egun that appears for the occasion. But the Egungun Festival is more than just a celebration. It’s also a time for reflection and connection with the past.
During the festival, people will pay their respects to their ancestors and ask for spiritual guidance. This helps to keep the traditions of the family alive, as well as create a sense of unity and solidarity. The festival is also a great opportunity to connect with the wider community, as people from all walks of life come together to celebrate.
The Yewa Festival
The Yewa festival is an exciting and joyous celebration that takes place in December every year. It is a traditional festival that has been celebrated for centuries by people in the Yewa region of Nigeria.
The festival is a time for people to come together in celebration and to show their appreciation for their culture and heritage. During the festival, traditional songs and dances are performed, and there are also competitions between different villages. There is also a large market where people can buy and sell goods.
The festival has always been an opportunity for the Yewa people to come together and show their appreciation for each other and the region.
The festival is full of music, dance, and colourful costumes. The festivities start on the first day of the month and last until December 23rd. During that time, people take part in various activities such as boat racing, dancing, and singing.
The Ogun Festival
The OGUN festival is an exciting celebration that takes place in December every year. It’s dedicated to the Yoruba god of iron and war, who is said to bring fertility and health to all who venerate him.
During the festival, people take part in traditional dances, music, and other activities to honour OGUN and show their appreciation for all the blessings he has bestowed upon them. On the last day of the festival, there is a special ceremony to give thanks to OGUN and ask for his continued favour.
The Ogun Festival is a time for the people to come together and celebrate the year’s successes and bond with family and friends. The vibrant music and colourful costumes make it a truly unique experience.
The New Yam Festival
Every December, Nigeria celebrates one of its most important festivals: the New Yam Festival. This exciting event consists of days of festivities, feasting, and dancing that honour the harvest of the yam, an incredibly important crop for Nigerian agriculture.
The festival is celebrated in various ways all across the country, from traditional dances and songs to colourful processions and offerings. It’s a great way for people to come together and celebrate their culture and traditions.
The New Yam Festival also serves as an important reminder of the importance of yam to us in Nigeria. Don’t forget, it has been a staple crop and a source of sustenance for centuries.
The festival is a time for celebration and joy, with people gathering to share in the bounty of the harvest and to express gratitude to their ancestors and the gods.
A Christmassy December
While all these festivals have not gone extinct, the addition of Christmas to the season is already something that we almost can’t do without. Especially the tradition and newness that comes with it. Christmas serves as a season of joy. A time to always remember. Even though it wasn’t celebrated in time past, it is still a huge part of our lives. A huge part of the life of Nigerian Christians.