Throughout Decemberdifferent people are reflecting on what Advent and Christmas mean to them. Here, Patience Busingye tells us aboutChristmas celebrations inUganda,with whom the Diocese of Bristol enjoys strong partnership links.
When I think of Christmas I think a long road trip to the countryside, reuniting with long lost family, loads of fresh foods, the cows on the farm, going to the well and basically enjoying life in its simplest form.
This has been the tradition since childhood when our family travels back to the village (my fathers home) around the 23rd. This time with our grandmother is really valued as it is not often that we get to see her during the course of the year.
It is not just our family alone that takes the journey; it is all the other families of my fathers siblings too, and friends of the family wishing to accompany us. The journeys excitement is usually short-lived, as it is eventually lost to the frustration of the excess overload with very little car space and, to top it all off, the very bad roads on the way.
But once we have arrived, it is jubilation, dancing and singing amidst ululation that welcomes us, with my grandmother waiting impatiently to hug and greet each one of us as we alight and join in the mini celebration.
The morning after, we are mostly just relaxing and shedding off the weariness of the journey. But this does not apply to the young girls and women in the home as it is housework as usual. From ensuring the houses are dusted and cleaned, laundry done, food cooked and children who are now uncountable from all the families catered to.
Its a long slow day away from the usual urban noise, which later draws in to a rather dark night, allowing a splendid view of the stars above. We light lamps or make fires outside where we sit around just sharing stories til they burn out. The village also has a tradition of night angels (who are really church choirs) visiting every home at dawn while they sing Christmas hymns and songs. It is quite a delight having them for the few minutes as we usually join in and sometimes accompany them to the next home.
The next morning is the big day and it is all about getting ready to go to church, whereby sometimes we are blessed to have my father, Revd Canon Gideon Byamugisha, preaching the sermon of the day.
The service is occasionally long and stretches in to the afternoon. Auctioning of items brought in as thanksgiving or offertory in the form of animals, food harvest and more takes most of the time. This is coupled with fundraising to further construct the church that is still without windows and other issues arising.
Ending the service means going back home to a very heavy lunch, initially left prepared in the morning that is enjoyed by all. Sometimes neighbours and random village individuals/families join in! Everyone eats and drinks their fill and then lazes around the rest of the evening just enjoying each others company.
In the night, we might play some loud music to further celebrate and dance using power run by a generator but this goes only a few hours. Once its off then the day is done and that is what Christmas means to me!
Patience Busingye, Uganda