Rooster in Sierra Leone (Photo: Dominik Bartenstein)

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays—there are a lot of differences between Christmas in America and in my country, Sierra Leone. In America, all they do is exchange gifts and go to work, but in Sierra Leone people will start celebrating a week before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, people will do lots of grocery shopping and buy lots of meats and chicken because they like to cook fresh food in the morning. On the day of Christmas, all you can smell is the good smell of different aromas—yum, yum.

Christmas is so special for us in Africa, because you will meet new people and it is time to reconcile and a time of healing. That’s why the best place people like to go is the beach with their small picnic baskets. They throw a mat on the sand and two or three other families will come and join them. Africans like to eat from the same bowl and like to share.

I love to see little children running and playing soccer in the water while the old ladies will be in their traditional colorful gara cloth, and the old men will be in their ronkos, knee-length tunics woven of cotton. There will be lots of people in different costumes dancing and playing games and doing their traditional dances. The only difference about Christmas in Sierra Leone is that everybody is preparing the same dish—jollof rice, cassava leaf, and stew. In America you do have different choices of food from other countries.

Suad Arouni is from Sierra Leone, and misses Christmas picnics on the beach with her family and friends.

Photo courtesy Dominik Bartenstein. Browse Dominik’s photostream on Flickr.

Posted in: Memories, Prose