Each year we take a look at how the holiday season is celebrated in an upcoming medical mission country. And every year we learn something new. Traditions and celebrations are so interesting to learn about!
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo Christmas is celebrated as a religious festival without the commercialization and with very few presents. Christmas Eve includes church celebrations and choir performances and, of course, nativity plays. Church is followed by family meals, preparing a feast at home; pork and chicken are staples for those who can afford it. There aren’t the large-scale decorations like we see in Western countries.
More than 50% of Congolese are Christian, with the majority practicing Catholicism, and traditional forms of religion are often combined with traditions added to services, for example, ancestors are begged for protection and people dance in the liturgy and offer gifts, including goat, cassava, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Congolese traditional beliefs hold that all things have life and deserve respect; life never ends, and no separation exists between the living and the dead. Offering the ancestors a drink by pouring some beer on the ground is symbolic of this belief.
New Year’s celebrations include parties in certain areas of the country. Many people do not have jobs, and even those with employment often do not receive paychecks on a consistent basis. People do not celebrate with lavish parties, as there is often no money to do so.
We are less than 200 days to our medical mission to the DRC. You can support WOGO’s efforts to restore mobility by giving at www.wogo.org/donate. Every dollar makes a difference.
Happy Holidays to you! And thanks for your support.