The changing face of Christmas in the eyes of the youth

For Ivan Ssemakula, Christmas back in the day always meant getting new clothes, eating chicken and meat and going to church to play with friends.

Today, Ssemakula who is 33 years acknowledges that Christmas has a different feel. While the feasting and partying is there, the excitement of eating good food has worn off.

Why? I asked him

“Today I can eat meat or chicken at least four days in a week and it is not as exciting as it used to be when we were young growing up in the village.

Ssemakula grew up in a typical rural household in Gomba, about 80Km outside Kampala.

He says when he compares the way people celebrate Christmas today with yesteryears, there is a big difference.

“We used to go to listen to Christmas carols at our church then on the D-day, they would organize a feast to which neighbours in the village were invited,” he says.

Christmas day was segmented into three parts, he says.

In the morning they would go to church, thereafter they would head home to prepare meals and in the evening they would go to watch local soccer matches or go and watch local dramas. The next day, they would unwrap gifts bought by their parents.

Today, Ssemakula, a businessman, says he has not time for some of the traditions, which in some areas are no longer honoured.

“Sometimes on Christmas Day, I get a call from a customer and I leave everything to attend to them,” he says. “I miss the old Christmas.”

Solome Adong, 27, too has fond memories of Christmas when she was young.

Adong, who grew up in Lira, says Christmas meant spending time with family and friends and sharing stories. It also meant exchanging gifts.

Today she says people have become individualistic and self centred.

“It is long since I lost got an invitation from someone to come and spend Christmas day with them,” says Adong a make-up artist.

As a young child, Adong remembers the fun of decorating the Christmas tree with balloons and toilet paper. That was before the advent of the plastic Christmas trees that are mainly imported from China.

Simon Peter Masaba, 35, remembers Christmas as a purely religious event because he grew up in a deeply religious family.

“In the days leading up to Christmas, the family would hold mass at least three times a day, praying for forgiveness, long life and good health,” he says.

Masaba says even when the religious aspect to the day remains, Christmas today has become more commercial.

Everywhere you look, you are bombarded with messages of buying this and that. Beer and soda companies are making a killing,” he says.

Jonah Kirabo, 25, a young journalist, says Christmas for him has changed in the sense that he has little time to rest. Back in the day, Christmas meant relaxing with family and friends, going to watch films.

“As a journalist, even on Christmas Day I am called upon to work because there are a number of news events,” he says.

He normally catches some break later in the afternoon but he acknowledges that the day has lost its spark.

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