Christmas in Madagascar – How is Christmas Celebrated in Madagascar?

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Madagascar is an island off the east coast of Africa, so it’s very hot at Christmas! Although it is very hot, the common decorations include holly, robins and snow, although none of them exists in Madagascar!

The official language of Madagascar is Malagasy. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in Malagasy is “Mirary Krismasy sambatra and Taona vaovao tonga lafatra ho anao”. Happy / Merry Christmas in many more languages.

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Most Malagasy people only exchange small gifts. In Madagascar, Santa Claus is called “Dadabe Noely”.

Christmas in Madagascar - How is Christmas Celebrated in Madagascar?

Most people go to the Church on Christmas Eve in Madagascar. Services start around 5:00 pm and last until after midnight! Different groups in the Church, especially children, perform songs and plays that celebrate the birth of Jesus. People also go to church on Christmas day too. After Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, churches distribute candy or cookies to people in the Church.

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Here are some Malagasy Christmas carols!

Sambasamba Zanahary (which means ‘It is a great opportunity, Lord, that you send your only Son to save us from our sin’)

Sambasamba, Zanahary
Tamin’ny nampidinanao
Ny Zanakao malalanao
Mba hisolo ny helokay
Tamin’ny nampidinanao
Ny Zanakao, malalanao, malalanao
Mba hisolo ny helokay

Avia Ry Mino (it’s Malagsy’s translation of ‘Oh Come all ye Faithful.’ You can try singing Avia Ry Mino on this page).

Avion r and mino! Hifaly and hihoby,
Avia, avia Hankany Betlehema;
Teraka Jeso tompon’ny anjely
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao

Tompon’ny Tompo, Andriananahary.
Nefa mba zana-behivavy koa
Zanak’I Maria, nefa Zanahary;
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao

Derao ry anjely, mohobia mafy,
Ry mponina an-danitra ao ambony ao
Dera sy laza atolory azy
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izayTomponao

He arahaba, tonga aty an-tany
Ny Tompo Mpamonjy sy Mpanjaka koa,
Tenin’ny Rainy voatafy nofo,
Avia hitsaoka Azy (x3) izay Tomponao!

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This poem is very popular among all Malagasy children:

Krismasy re no tonga (Christmas is coming)
Falifaly ny kilonga (Children are happy)
Krismasy had fety (Chrismas is really a party)
Ho an’ny kely sy vaventy (For children and adults)

On Christmas day, people (even strangers) greet each one by saying “Trathay de Arahaba ny Noely” which means “Merry Christmas”.

Malagasy families like to eat Christmas dinner in large groups and get dressed in the best (or new) clothes. The food is usually chicken or pork with rice followed by a special cake. Some rich people go to restaurants for Christmas dinner, but most people stay at home with their families. Here are some recipes from Madagascar.

A special Christmas meal in Madagascar are fresh lychees, which are bought in shops and street vendors, fresh from the trees. The streets are covered in lychee skins!

Easter flowers also grow as large outdoor bushes in Madagascar and do not flower only at Christmas! They are also the national emblem of Madagascar.

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