Christmas in Ghana: Christmas Day
On Christmas Day festivities begin quite early, sometime before dawn, as groups of carolers go door to door singing songs. House-holders typically offer small presents to the singers, who stand for the band of angels that brought the good news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. Caroling of the same sort may also take place on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day church services are scheduled for mid-morning. They feature the retelling of the Nativity story and the singing of many hymns and carols in local languages. After the service is over, children collect candies and other sweet treats said to have come from Father Christmas. Some also receive a book, new clothes, or shoes as Christmas presents. People greet each other, saying "Afishapa,” which means "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Christmas celebrations continue through the day as families, friends, and neighbors gather for feasts and dances. Typical foods eaten at Christmas time include peanut soup, fufu (a paste made from mashed yams), okra soup, and some kind of meat, such as chicken, goat, sheep, beef, or pork. Brightly colored paper ornaments pinned up throughout the house set a cheery mood for the festivities. Many Ghanaian families also festoon a tree growing in their courtyard with paper ornaments. Often mango, guava, or cashew trees serve this purpose. Other families will bring a single tree branch into the house and decorate it with lights and ornaments.
In Ghana many people observe the libation ceremony, a traditional folk ritual, at Christmas time. In this ritual people drink from a cup and then pour some of its contents on the ground as a symbolic offering to their ancestors.