The day after Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas tree, dug out our Christmas CD’s, set out a few other decorations and put up a wreath on the door. Our home is as ready as it is going to be for the Christmas holiday.
Last Friday night we hosted our monthly missionary potluck for Mwanza missionaries. We sang Christmas carols and told some of our family traditions at Christmas; this was very interesting since we have missionaries here from a number of countries other than the USA.
However, traveling around Mwanza there is no evidence that we are in the Christmas season; there are no decorations, music, Christmas ads/sales, Santa Clauses, nativity scenes. There are none of the Christmas trappings that Americans would associate with Christmas. Last year, one of the grocery stores (smaller than our house) put up a rather pathetic looking little artificial Christmas tree and had a couple strings of lights on the shelves. They were very proud of their Christmas look; they are Muslim but they have many Christian customers and made this concession for their Christian customers.
Tanzanians, even those who are Christians, don’t decorate for Christmas and don’t give gifts; Christmas Day is spent in church worshipping Jesus. Usually, there are no choirs, contatas, orchestras, Christmas hymns, plays or special programs. They just pray, worship, hear the word and sometimes share a meal together after the service which is then followed by another service. Hmmm, odd concept to us but I have a feeling that God is pleased.