What Does Religion Have to Do with New Year in Ghana?

Ghana is a very religious society. I believe Ghana has the most churches and mosques per square km in the world. People usually answer “by the grace of God, I am well” when I ask how they are doing. Ghanaians all over Ghana go to church each Sunday or Mosque each Friday and sometimes on other days of the week too for Wednesday service, Qur’an teachings or “Friday-all-night”.

So it did surprise me a lot when I realized Christmas is not a big deal for Christians in Ghana. Ok, banks and shopping malls get all dolled up with tinsel, red bows and Christmas trees (although both my husband and I have seen trees turned upside down) and businesses are supposed to give their employees and clients “Christmas hampers” or baskets full of goodies (often rice, oil and cake).

But there is no general Ghanaian Xmas celebration style with say a huge dinner and gifts, nor is there a time for peace and quiet or to even assume your friends and family are busy – a friend was invited to a wedding on the 24th!

Then maybe it makes sense that New Year’s Eve is indeed a religious holiday. I just wonder where in the Bible church-leaders find their support for celebrating the end of the year rather than Jesus’ birthday…

So what does religion have to do with New Year’s Eve in Ghana? Well, on this evening many Ghanaians go to church, also those who rarely go (you know who you are!) will find a way to, everyone is dressed in white, the whole thing is quite peaceful and most churches congregate outdoors because of the huge crowds or as in the case of popular pastor Mensa Otabil (see the billboard pic taken in traffic today above which inspired this post) –  at the Accra Sports Stadium!

See other posts on Ghanaian New Year’s Eve here and here.



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  1. Actually, Christmas in Ghana is a big deal – for religious people anyway. It is NOT COMMERCIAL – so no one cares about tress, and gifts, etc. It is more a time for reflection/contemplation about what it means (for religious people anyway) – and small family gatherings 9for most other people), and respite from the daily grind that has occurred throughout the year. That’s how it’s always been.

  2. You are saying a down-to-earth kinda Christmas? Sounds good. What I have seen is business as usual, but to be fair, we almost always find time to spend xmas day eating fufu and lightsoup at my mother-in-law’s with the family.

  3. Lol, Kajsa. When I am in Gh, I always complain about how no-fun it is. then when I get out o the country I always complain about hw commercial it is!

    That fufu and lightsoup sounds good. makes me wish you’d saved some for me!

    Happy new year.