As in all majority Christian nations of Africa, Christmas in Kenya is a time of celebration, rejoicing, and reconnecting with family. Almost everyone, irrespective of faith or religious belief, puts aside the cares of career and work and travels “upcountry” to be with loved ones. The big cities and towns have a ghost feeling as a temporary migration takes place for about 10 days—from a day before Christmas to the second day of the new year.
During this time, extended family bonds are reestablished in get-togethers planned for that purpose. More weddings take place in December than in any other month of the year. For those who follow traditional cultural practices, it is a time when most rites of passage are observed and young people are ushered into adulthood.
The Western traditions of lights, exchanging gifts, and the benevolent acts of Father Christmas are taking root slowly among the rising generation but are not typical features of Christmas celebrations, especially in the rural areas where most of the people live and spend the Christmas vacation.
In December 1992, our young family traveled from Nairobi to be with our extended family near the small town of Kitale in western Kenya at Christmastime.