Christmas in Tanzania is never about decorations, gifts or even family get-togethers. Traditionally, Christmas is spent at the church all day celebrating the birth of Jesus. Often there is a meal after the first service that they all share together. However, it’s not the American tradition of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. It’s usually more along the line of rice, beans, cooked greens, ugali and some kind of meat which is usually goat. Gifts are not exchanged, rather, they celebrate God’s gift to the world, Jesus.
Often on Christmas Day or the week of Christmas they have outdoor evangelistic services or week long seminars in their churches – the focus is always Jesus. Pastors often travel away from their families to hold these meetings so they are not with their families on Christmas Day. If you were to tell them, which I have in the past, that Christmas is a time to be with family they will disagree with you. Christmas, they say, is about sharing the Good News of Jesus.
I think the Tanzanian Christians have a better grasp of how to celebrate Christmas than we do.