The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas in Botswana

The post office in Shoshong has a mini tree and other Christmas decorations. Otherwise, the village is pretty devoid of Christmas preparations as we think of them in the states. Christmas is celebrated much differently here.

I grew up in an alcohol-free household, so we never had parties focused on drinking. Every Christmas Eve, mom, dad and I hosted an open house/potluck for friends and community members. We cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. I made deviled eggs. We made hot chocolate, sat around the fireplace and sang Christmas carols. Perhaps other families celebrated Christmas with alcohol, but we didn't.

Regardless of your choice of beverage, Christmas in the states is usually about remembering to spend time with family and showing loved ones that you care. And obviously some people attend church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, in Botswana, people do one of two things: get drunk or go to church. People in Shoshong have been getting drunk since last weekend. They celebrate the "festive season" as they call it by drinking with friends. Christmas isn't centered on family like it is for us. Families don't give gifts, for the most part. No one has a Christmas tree or decorations of any kind. I spent Christmas in Hawaii last year so the hot weather doesn't make Christmas feel different. It doesn't feel like Christmas as I know it because that outpouring of family love and support isn't there.

I was thinking about this the other day and came to the conclusion that Batswana don't really need a "Christmas season" to remind them to be giving and call their family members. If someone comes over your house while you are eating, you feed him/her. It is a society based on sharing and looking out for each other. Also, most Batswana live with their family members in villages. They don't need one day to call someone across the country like we do in the states. And in many ways, the fact that they don't need these reminders to be loving human beings is the most beautiful aspect of their culture.

But I am an American. I want my tree. I want my lights. And my AWESOME mom sent me a mini tree in the mail, as well as Christmas lights. Unfortunately they burned out because of voltage problems so I am going to have to go into the nearest larger town to get some lights to hang up tomorrow. I think I may carry on a Plant family tradition and keep the lights on year round...

(Note the New England Patriots santa hat)

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year, Amelia. Christmas with your Mom and Dad was as wonderful as it could be... without you there with us, that is. We laughed, we cried, we ate, we prayed, we talked about you... and of course about ourselves (no surprise there). Love you and miss you here in SoCo, RI.