Christmas in Madagascar is celebrated on December 25th, just as it is in most countries.
However, an African December will never provide a White Christmas, as the average temperature there is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
It just so happens that poinsettias are the national emblem of Madagascar and bloom here year-round, so they are included by nature.
The Basics of a Malagasy Christmas
The people (and the official language) of Madagascar are called Malagasy, and most are of the Christian religion.
Therefore, the birth of Jesus and Christmastime are very important to them.
In the Malagasy language, Santa Claus is referred to as ‘Dadabe Noely’, which means Grandfather Christmas.
You might hear him (along with everyone else you see) say “Mirary Krismasy sambatra” or “Arahaba tratry ny Noely” as he walks through the villages, adorning a red robe with white trim.
In fact, every person tends to greet each other this way during the Christmas season.
Even though Santa is a part of Christmas here, presents are not the main focus. Madagascar tends to put more emphasis on the church, and only a few small gifts are exchanged.
That is if the money allows it. If not, they might try to make what they are able to, or perhaps leave the gifts out altogether.
Beginning in the evening (around 5 pm) on Christmas Eve, the Malagasy people head to church.
Songs and other religion-based displays are performed by various churchgoers, especially the children.
In fact, they have most likely been practicing these performances for a while by now. This all continues for the rest of the night, often past midnight.
On the morning of Christmas Day, they all return back to the church for more worship and celebration time.
On both of these days, the church will often provide treats such as sweets, rice cakes, or biscuits to the attendees.
Everyone seems to be filled with a warmer and kinder spirit on Christmas Day, and doing good for others is put on the forefront.
For Christmas dinner, Malagasies show up decked out in their very best clothes. If a family’s finances permit it, they might even buy new outfits just for the occasion.
Remember, it stays warm here, so breezy summer dresses would be typical for the females. Boys and men will dress very nicely, but also cool and comfortable for the weather.
Families gather in large groups and dine on pork or chicken, along with rice, fresh lychees, and a special cake for dessert.
Although this meal may sound modest, is a treat for the people that have less.
If they can afford to do so, they might go to a restaurant, but most people do not.
Main Points About Christmas in Madagascar
- In Madagascar, Poinsettias are not really special Christmas flowers, since they grow as large outdoor shrubs. They are Madagascar’s national emblem.
- For Christmas dinner, families come together in large groups to dine and make merry.
- On Christmas eve, many families attend church to thank God, watch nativity scene play and listen to the children sing Christmas songs.
- The people of Madagascar are not so big on traditional Christmas trees and decorations. Many families decorate pine trees.
- The Christmas meals in Madagascar are usually better and richer than everyday meals. And there is a lot of candies to share at Christmas.
Christmastime goes on a bit longer here, often for several days beyond December 25th.
While life in Madagascar tends to be simpler than in many other countries, Christmas is appreciated just as much. They simply have their own special way of going about it.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Madagascar
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Madagascar. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.