Throwback Thursday: Kenyan Christmas Way Back When…

Article by Mutanu Kyany'a
Posted: December 19, 2019  

Christmas in the 90s was fun! Remember that Coca-cola Advert that had the Legendary truck that announced to the world that the festive season is here? Oh… what good times!

In the spirit of throwback Thursday, here are 5 things we loved and miss about Christmas in the 90s.

  1. Travelling To Ushago

December holidays in the 90s were mostly spent upcountry, or as Kenyans call it, ushago. It was a whole reunion of cousins! Remember going for duf-mpararo (swimming in the river naked) yet you were supposed to be herding? Most times, the cows would go graze in the neighbors farm, warranting you a thrashing once you got back home. Good old days!

If your ushago was in Ukambani or the Mount Kenya Region like some of us, enjoying those mangoes or plums straight from the shamba was something to look forward to the whole year. Climbing those trees used to be an extreme sport!

Duf-mpararo was a must during Christmas holidays in the 90s


  1. Getting New Clothes

One of the best things about Christmas in the 90s was the guarantee of getting new clothes. 90s kids will tell you it wasn’t Christmas until you had a Cinderella dress, full with a lady purse, stockings and purse! Lets not forget completing that killer look with a fresh curly kit or braids.

Boys would of course spot a box-cut and a suit with a bow-tie.

PS: In the 90s, it was completely normal for siblings to match outfits, particularly during Christmas.


  1. Feasting

If there was a time when the whole community came together to feast, was on Christmas Day. The men would wake up quite early to slaughter a cow, goat or sheep; depending on the size of the family. Women on the other hand would bring out the tables and start rolling chapatis; because chapati plus nyama choma equals Christmas!

Remember how kids used to sit at  their mother’s side and feign hunger just to be given the first chapo? Or how sometimes, the chapatis would turn into a game where children would compete on who would eat the most chapatis then end up constipating the following day?! By the way, overfeeding was a norm for Christmas in the 90s!

Not forgetting the numerous bottles of soda we could drown that day, as our folks enjoyed their favorite Tusker, or as they called it, soda ya watu wakubwa.

In the 90s, feast preparation was a community affair on Christmas Day.

  1. Going to Church on Christmas Day

In the 90s, everybody went to Church on Christmas Day; and those church sessions were long! After the sermon we would then have these Christmas Plays and Presentations, each with a Christmas theme.  Going to see baby Jesus as he lay in the manger, and present him a gift, was something to look forward to.

Every year, after the presentations were done, without fail, the priest would then ask ‘wageni wa Nairobi to introduce themselves in front of the church. How those kids struggled to say hi to the congregation in mother tongue!

The highlight of going to church on Christmas Day, apart from flaunting your new clothes and shoes, was getting free biscuits and candy. Somebody take me back!

Christmas in the 90s: Everyone wanted to go see Baby Jesus as he lay in the manger.


  1. Christmas Movies

Before the advent of Netflix and movies on the internet, before everyone had a cellphone, the whole family watched Christmas movies on programmed television. And the programmed television stations did not fail us! Christmas in the 90s was characterised by reruns of Home Alone, for the kids, and Preacher’s Wife, for the adults.




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