It’s Christmas Eve here and I am preparing for a very unique Christmas. It doesn’t feel at all like Christmas—it’s hot, there are no Christmas decorations, and I’m not with my family for the first time in my life. Tomorrow about 9 other volunteers from the area are coming to Zobue for Christmas dinner with Emma and me. We will do a white elephant gift exchange and hopefully sing some carols. We don’t have much for decorations so I copied what my friends Sam and Caitlin did in Cuamba and drew a tree on our wall with chalk. Even though it won't be my typical Christmas, I think it will be a good one.
We are preparing to make chicken (I bought 5 live chickens today and carried them by their feet all the way to my house as they flapped and squawked—that was a first), rice and beans, and mango salsa/salad. I’m also hoping to make an apple cake for dessert. I made banana muffins the other day which were delicious so I have high hopes for the apple cake. I bought the live chickens, but am not up for killing them myself so our friend Marcos Leme is going to kill them for us and bring them (hopefully all cut up and ready to cook) tomorrow. He and his wife Servina, daughter Marnela (2 years), and baby Suneila (2 months) will also be joining us for Christmas dinner. They are some of our favorite people so far in Zobue and have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I’m so glad I get to share Christmas with them.
Chickens on our porch.
Leme and Marnela. So adorable!
Talking to Mozambicans about Christmas has been very interesting. Most have never heard of Santa Claus, which makes total sense, but took me by surprise. I probably sounded like a crazy person as I tried to describe Santa Claus in Portuguese. “So, there’s this guy who lives up in the very north of the world who has all these little people who work for him and they spend all year making toys for the kids of world. On the day before Christmas this guy, Santa, gets into his cart and delivers toys to all the children. Every house has a tree in it during this time of year and he puts the presents under the tree. His cart is pulled by animals called reindeer…they are big animals that don’t usually fly but in this case they are magical and fly and pull his cart through the sky so he can deliver all the presents in one night.” Yeah, that definitely sounds crazy. It’s so hard to describe something that is so pervasive in our American culture to someone who has no reference point whatsoever. Definitely a challenge, but a fun one.
Christmas in Mozambique is very different than in the states. It is a holiday here and there is definitely a celebration, but it mostly consists of having a dinner with family members. There are no Christmas decorations, no Christmas music, no Christmas parties, no stress to buy presents for everyone, and no rush to get everything done before the big day. In some ways, it’s very nice to be out of the whole commercial Christmas frenzy. They call Christmas “family day” here in Mozambique which I think is perfect in its simplicity.
Merry Christmas to everyone! Miss you all! Thank you so much for reading my blog--it's so encouraging to see that so many people are following my experience here in Mozambique. I wish you all a great end of 2013 and an amazing start to 2014.