Whether you eat turkey or goat for your Christmas dinner, the festive celebrations bring families together in countries all over the world. Rutendo Rushwaya, an MBA International Relations student, shares Christmas traditions from her home country Zimbabwe.

Our family tradition, which my father has advocated since I can remember, involves us travelling to our rural home, where he was born and raised. Every Christmas we go to my grandmother’s farm in a rural village called Zimuto, which is in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe.

My grandmother has 13 children and between each child they have an average of four children, and usually all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren assemble at her farm in the Mushagashe area. For Christmas in 2014, 50 people came to my grandmother’s farm!

Christmas for my family is a time to give and show love to family members, especially the members that live in other countries and who we have not seen for a very long time. As a child, Christmas was my favourite time of the year because we used to get new clothes especially for Christmas and also get presents. My parents would also buy for other family members who lived in rural Zimbabwe and who couldn’t afford to buy clothes and presents for Christmas. We would also bring food from the city with us and buy fizzy drinks – which is a treat for rural family members. My parents would go to the wholesalers three days before Christmas and buy groceries and other consumables, which people in the rural areas needed. Other family members who had jobs and lived in the city also did the same. In essence, Christmas is a time of giving in Zimbabwe.

As a child on Christmas day we would wake up, bath and go for the morning Christmas service at my grandmother’s church, which is the Dutch Reformed Church of Zimbabwe. After the service we would go back home and my grandmother would give us money to go to the town or to the local shopping centre and we would buy candy, fizzy drinks and any other junk food. There were would be about 20 of us and my grandmother would have a sack full of coins and we were given money according to our age. It was so much fun; we would go there singing and dancing. We would also meet up with other local children and play table football (known as ‘slug’ in Zimbabwe) and other games.

We would then go back home for lunch which would usually be rice (which is a treat for rural Zimbabweans) which would be served plain or mixed with chicken and peanut butter (called roadrunner). My grandmother would also slaughter a cow and a goat, and we would have all kinds of meat dishes such as tripe, oxtail, stew, trotters. Zimbabweans eat the whole animal, except the hooves, nails and skin. The city people would bake muffins and cakes and we would bring them with us to the farm.

As I got older Christmas was not as fun because it was the females that did all the cooking and cleaning – and the worst part was the cleaning of the intestines of the animals that had been slaughtered for the occasion. In a nutshell, Christmas for me in Zimbabwe now involves cooking and cleaning all day for the elders, men and children. I still love it though, because I get to spend time with my family.

Find out more about life as an international student at Birmingham City University.

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