Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The first signs of Christmas

Of course Christmas is completely different here. The first time I really heard it mentioned was in relation to the police. “The police become more harsh in December – they are trying to get more money before the end of the year. You even see them in the villages.”. There seems to be some truth in this, there is a lot of police activity and I had my first slightly unpleasant encounter with police recently, normally they are very pleasant.
The second conversation about Christmas involved food prices : “They start to go up near Christmas”. I can’t vouch for this personally. What has surprised me is that there has been little mention of it in church. I thought an Episcopal church would be stronger on celebrating Advent (apparently it is more significant in the Catholic Church). This week the church is being painted and decorated there are some special meetings next week, but there is certainly no Advent theme in worship yet.
Last Saturday we were in Butare and there was one shop with a tiny Christmas tree and a tinselly Christmas banner, but otherwise they are thankfully free of Western glitter.
For our part, we have put up some fairy lights on the veranda, taken a suitable branch to act as a small Christmas tree outside our door and are working our way through a chocolate advent calendar (thanks, Clare!). With reports of storms at home and the weather actually improving here, it’s hard to believe that there are only 12 days to go.
There is one other sign of Christmas – the flow of newsy emails from the UK has dried up! Presumably everyone is writing Christmas cards?

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