It is Christmas time again and in Swaziland we celebrate Christmas too…BUT we do it very different than in America.
When you walk into the grocery store, the Santa (statue) has shorts on and is standing with a surfboard because Christmas in Swaziland is in the summer AND IT IS HOT! Unfortunately 85% of our CarePoint kids will never get to see this Santa, because they won’t make it into town (and forget about sitting on Santa’s lap and giving him their Christmas wish list or taking pictures with him)! And while we sing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” probably none of our CarePoint kids will ever get to experience a white Christmas.
And while you may decorate your tree, and hang special Christmas ornaments that friends and family made you, no children in our programs in Swaziland will have Christmas trees, sparkling lights, and they will not find any gifts under the tree Christmas morning. They won’t leave any cookies out for Santa the night before, or even dream of him coming to their house.
Please —we don’t want you to feel guilty; we just want you to realize how different Christmas in Swaziland is! And don’t feel sad! Your special friend will most probably wake up very excited, do his/her daily chores quickly and then take a bucket bath, because Christmas is a special day and you have to be clean on a special day! They will eat a special (but very plain) breakfast of bread and polony (a kind of bologna), put on their Sunday best or a new outfit they received for Christmas. They will walk to a friend’s house to go show off their new clothes or walk to church where they will worship our Heavenly Father with full enthusiasm, without “Carols by Candlelight,” and no Christmas show on stage. They will go home and eat a special meal of chicken or goat and rice that they most probably helped to slaughter the previous day (for which the family have probably been saving all year). After lunch the kids will go visit the homesteads of friends and be served more food. They will laugh, eat and spend time together.
In Swaziland Christmas is not consumer / revenue driven; in Swaziland Christmas is truly about Christ and about celebrating His birth, about family and about being together. It is not about the gifts and everything else that goes with it. It is plain and simple, it is beautiful and it is full of joy.
May we truly remember the reason for Christmas and may we savor every moment with our loved ones.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our Swazi staff!
If you would like to make a lasting impact on the lives of the most vulnerable children and their communities around the world consider making a gift to our Christmas campaign. Your gift will allow us to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and equip vulnerable children and families with the tools they need to instill hope and break the cycle of poverty.