Stephen Adu-Koranteng swapped fireside Yuletide for a Ghanaian Christmas on the beach.
What comes to mind when we think about Christmas? Evergreen Christmas trees, grandma’s hand-knitted turtlenecks, and a turkey slow roasted to perfection.
When the weather outside is frightening, ’tis the season to stay indoors where it’s warm and warm-hearted.
I used to enjoy this type of Christmas and could not possibly imagine celebrating it any other way, until I was 15.
After years of talking about it, I eventually gave in to my mum asking me to go with her back to Ghana, our home country. I admit I was reluctant, constantly thinking to myself: how am I going to enjoy my Christmas there? What do they do to celebrate? And how am I meant to get the warm feeling of Christmas in a country that’s still hot (upwards of 27 degrees) in December.
On arrival I encountered a very traditional Christmas; it’s just that the traditions of West Africa are very different to the traditions here in London.
Mornings were a big contrast. Instead of an extra lay-in, then waking up and going over to the Christmas tree to open presents, in Ghana we headed straight out to kill the Christmas turkey – quite an experience.
Rather than knitting the next jumper, Grandma got the job of plucking and cleaning the bird while we all went to the beach for Christmas Day.
Labardi beach is the most popular beach in the capital city, Accra. There you can find everyone from families to tourists, all relaxing and enjoying themselves.
In Ghana the last thing you’d want to do is stay indoors: being in the open air is the tradition.
We sat under the sun looking into the clear blue water, just dozing off until sunset – the feeling of serenity was unreal.
After experiencing the Ghana-style Christmas I truly missed it the year after, when I was back home in England.
Which Christmas do I prefer? Adapting to another culture was the true beauty of my Ghanaian Christmas, but I would honestly say they are both special in their own way.
After all, Christmas is about how, not where, you spend it.
Picture by Rob Bertholf used under creative commons licence