Christmas in Rwanda: By Blake Armstrong

Deck the halls? Sleigh bells? White Christmas? Not in Rwanda…

In the United States the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas is one marked with all kinds of festive cheer. Families come together, much food is consumed and people exchange gifts.

Although the ex-pat community here did prepare a production of “The Nutcracker” performed by the students of the international school, by and large our Western traditions are forgotten here. No Christmas trees, no Santa Claus, and no Christmas songs.

In Rwanda, a different spirit fills the minds of the people of the “Land of a Thousand Hills”.

Even impoverished families in Rwanda will gather for a Christmas dinner with family after going to Church that day. The focus of the day’s events is on the Church service. If any gifts are exchanged, they are more symbolic ones of rice, beans and milk – a reminder of God’s provision.

I have been humbled by the reverence that I have seen in Rwandans for the Christmas holiday and for the true joy that comes in celebrating Christ’s birth with family and friends. The Edify team in Rwanda is very thankful that we will get to be with our families over the holidays and to take back what we have learned from our gracious Rwandan hosts.

Merry Christmas to everyone!