Filed Under (Beninese culture, General) by Rob on 21-12-2007

See for yourself…

(Entrance to the ‘Village de Noël’, Cotonou)

(Outside the ‘Tornade’ supermarket, Cotonou)

(A toy shop in town – how many Santas can you count?!)

(The 10ft inflatable Santa outside the ‘Supermarché du Pont’, down our street)

(one of the many ‘Black Santas’ found all over town)

So, whilst Christmas could almost go unnoticed in some villages, Cotonou has plenty to remind us of the season (though mostly, as you’ve seen, LOTS of Santas, dressed in most inappropriate clothing for the climate!!) So, what is Christmas like in an urban African context?

Well, to start with, we do not have:

* Snow (apart from occasional fake snow on shop windows).
* Log fires (much too warm for that!)
* Holly, mistletoe or real Christmas trees.
* Parsnips or Brussels sprouts (what a shame!!)
* Mince pies (anywhere!)
* Premature decorations – the first signs of Christmas appear in early December, no sooner.
* Nauseating Christmas hits of ‘Slade’ etc. piped into every shop (only been in 1 or 2 shops which had carols playing).

However, we do have:

* Turkey – ordered from the ‘Championne’ supermarket and others
* Christmas pud and Christmas crackers (available at the ‘Mayfair’ supermarket only).
* Some Christmas decorations about town. (Last year, there were even colourful lights on one of the main roads).
* Lots of kids in the street with Christmas scenes made of cardboard boxes, singing “Mon p’tit Papa Noël” for some extra cash.
* Parties and special Christmas meals etc.
* Extra chocolates on sale in the supermarkets (even Ferrero Rocher…)
* A chance to visit Santa:


Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, have a good one and keep in touch when you can.


1 Comment posted on "Do they know it’s Christmas??"
Lingamish on December 22nd, 2007 at 6:15 pm #

Rob, thanks as always for the photos. These are terrific. We were in Lilongwe, Malawi today and Christmas seems to be fairly prominent. Here in Mozambique it is almost non-existent.