Christmas abroad – it just doesn’t sound right, right?
When I think of Christmas I always have images of it being at home in my house in Newcastle experiencing all the usual trimmings, driving home for Christmas over the Tyne bridge, going to see the Fenwicks Christmas window displays, my dad playing Santa at church (the kids in our church now think Santa is black lol) and being royally stuffed as we watch the ever more ridiculous Christmas Eastenders episode. So Christmas abroad ain’t really my thing and yet I have done it three times – twice in Nigeria and once in Belgium.
The first time I went to Nigeria for Christmas I was eight. Did I enjoy it? Unfortunately not because the first time I went for Christmas was my first time to Nigeria period! I was not prepared for it at all. My memories of it all are fuzzy but I remember these things:
- Getting ill
- Meeting some of my cousins for the first time
- Playing in my paternal grandparents yard, mainly chasing chickens
- Witnessing the beheading of said chickens and them running round headless (this may explain my nonchalance regarding where food comes from and incredulousness that many children nowadays do not know this!)
- My grandpa and him telling me I must eat a lot of potatoes given my size lol
- Learning a new game called Ayo and playing it A LOT since my grandparents had NO TV.
- Geckos (yuck), NEPA and Nigerian FANTA (the hype for this is real lol)
- I got presents for Christmas but they certainly did not come back home with me to the UK!
So it was quite an experience for a child of eight! I was in no rush to repeat Christmas away again in Nigeria.
Fast forward many, many years later and I was in Nigeria again for Christmas in 2011. It was spent in Akure, Nigeria where my feisty forever young maternal grandma lives. She was determined to make Christmas like we had in Newcastle. So although not necessary a tradition of Nigeria she bought turkey for us to eat.
Correction: She bought three live turkeys that were running around in the garden days before we were to have it for Christmas lunch.
I actually love my grandma for this, all to make us feel more at home! My cousin killed the turkey (my older self found this more difficult to watch compared to my eight year old self) and we all pitched in to help pluck the turkey and remove its insides. This was a whole new level of preparing Christmas dinner! Here I am below with just some of my cousins prepping the turkey.
Was the turkey roasted and basted like at home? Sadly not it was chopped into bits and put into a spicy hot stew so not quite the Christmas Turkey I was expecting but nevertheless I ate and was merry!
Christmas when I went to Nigeria had a different focus there were very little in street decorations save for in the big shopping malls but that is understandable given the nature of the government there and more pressing matters that money needs to be spent on. Times are a-changing though and some states are now experiencing public Christmas light displays. Its not as commercial compared to over on the British shores but it remains the same in that its a time family come around to celebrate. We needed three turkeys because there was a lot of us to be fed and guests came around to say their Merry Christmases and with that food is shared.
Snaps I took as I travelled up to my grandma’s in Akure, Nigeria.
So although not my usual experience of Christmas it was certainly a different one! How do you feel about Christmas abroad? Is it your cup of tea? Maybe I need to try it in another country?
A natural festive tree that I spotted in a family friend’s back garden (Ibadan, Nigeria)
Merry Christmas my fellow travellers!
Love The Five to Nine Traveller xx