“Ngwaga oo mosha!” (Happy New Year!) goes the greeting, as is customary during this time of the year, at which time many think Christmas comes before the New year.
Then what usually follows is the trading of stories on how one’s festive holiday was spent. From these stories, one would gather Botswana’s own ethos that we have attached to Christmas.
A forever-present fixture is the argument on the origins of Christmas, always debated with the same fervour with the same old arguments raised; one party screaming damnation, saying that Christmas is a pagan ritual that precedes Jesus Christ and one that we should not recognise. Another group reasons that Christ was not born on December 25, offering calculations on the star spotted by the Three Kings of the Orient.
Which ever way one looks at it, many Christians choose to use this period to renew their faith and remember the second coming of their Saviour.
With the Christian meaning of Christmas not lost on us, the gathering of families is a universal custom. And, inevitably, siblings and the extended family will then switch between rivalry and revelry. Waking up late because you are on holiday and feel you deserve a break will earn you the elders’ scorn and questioning eyes of those daring enough to cut eyes at you.
“Mary wants us to cook the chicken last, why is she sitting pretty in her chunky necklace when she should be out here with us; she thinks her promotion at work makes her better than us,” is the tone of comments often heard at many such gatherings that I have attended. But that’s merely the colour of the festivity that makes family gatherings what they are, ensuring that many leave home feeling reasonably undermined enough to exert themselves back at work in the New Year.
And the food!
It is a mystery how people manage to stuff their stomachs with food till their shirts threaten to tear at the seams, and all they can do is shift from side to side. Someone should locate the study that explains why the most basic menu prompts overeating on Christmas.
Getting overstuffed on Christmas is unavoidable.
After the overfilled stomach becomes easy to manoeuvre, all that’s left to do is leave home to avoid anymore of the ego bruising snipes that are being hurled increasingly faster as family members get more pissed at each other.
So one chooses between spending the rest of the day choking in a cloud of dust, whipped by the rambunctious men in traditional choir groups that have also chosen Christmas as the day they battle for vocal supremacy with their pointed lyrics and growling basses.
Another option is the Christmas football league, where village hunks and others chase around a ball competing for the chance to show off their football tricks that are often appreciated by squealing gangs of teenage girls.