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AABL News Digest
Christmas in Uganda
In Uganda, Christmas is called Sekukkulu. It is celebrated on the 25th of every December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
During the Christmas season there is high movement of people from the city to their respective villages to share Christmas holiday joys with their families and friends. It is a joyful season, quiet and reflective holiday with very few decorations and lights spread over the city. This is a time to relax, reconnect with family, enjoy good meals, and make visits to old friends and relatives back in the village.
While this is the case, bus operators take advantage of travelers by hiking the transport fares compared to the normal days because the demand for transport services plying different routes within and outside the country is always very high.
Everything stops for Sekukkulu like hospitals start discharging patients to go home except those who have serious conditions. Most government bureaucrats take their holiday break from almost the middle of December to the second week of January. All official business grinds to a halt. Also the prices of food and other goods become incredibly high.
The evening before Sekukkulu “December 24th” is a very exciting time as the aroma of the foods being prepared fills the air as children are busy cleaning the home; especially sweeping the courtyard and cutting the grass. Some families will slaughter cows, goats, sheep, pigs as well as chicken. Everybody eats and drinks until they cannot eat any more. After this major feast it is time for storytelling, games, traditional dances and singing.
In the morning of Sekukkulu, Ugandan churches are filled to full capacity; people wearing their new clothes, especially for women to show off their new traditional dresses in rich colors. Even those who never go to church from January to December do attend on this special day. After church service, the celebrations go on to the wee hours of the morning.
Even though some families do not eat meat on this special day due to their low levels of income, quite a number of people especially in rural areas across the country have formed groups of atleast 12 to 15 people with an aim of meeting Christmas needs. Each member pays $10 for the whole year and paying in installments is acceptable. From the $10 each member pays, group members are encouraged to borrow it on a little interest rate and pay it back within a given period of time.
Then on December 15, each group gets its entire savings and buys a cow which is slaughtered on December 24, and kilos of meat are shared amongst them. So on Christmas, almost every Ugandan is always excited looking forwards to have a special meal because the above method has helped many rural low income earners to meet Christmas needs. Usually, each member gets between 11 to 14 kilograms of meat or even above depending on the number of members and the cow`s weight. One of the advantages of being in these groups is that you pay less and gain much. Also you get a chance to enjoy on every part of the cow. For example if a group has 12 members, they make sure that each part let say liver is cut into 12 shares so that each member can have some. Apart from the Christmas groups, there are also many other different groups here which save money month by month and eventually meet the needs of every member.