Christmas Season in Juba

I must begin this post by stating that I did not spend Christmas Day, December 25th, in Juba, South Sudan. I was blessed with the privilege of traveling home and spending the Christmas holiday with my family and friends. However, I spent over half of December in South Sudan and it provided me with a glimpse of their Christmas culture.

When I was planning how I would spend my time in December, Bishop Enock told me not to plan many activities in December because everything shuts down for the holidays. The ECS provincial office shut down on the 16th of December. The Diocese of Rejaf, which is not yet a full office, decided to stop working from the 19th of December. I tried to contact people in neighboring dioceses about plans in January, but they were unavailable from the 14th and 15th of December.

The Christmas season didn’t appear similar to what’s normative in the states. Except for the day I spent 3 hours waiting in Juba’s largest bank, I never saw a Christmas tree or heard traditional American Christmas carols. I didn’t see tensile, wreaths, mistletoe, lights, or other forms of decorations on houses or businesses (I think some places, however, were decorated closer to Christmas.  I left on Dec 16th.)

I was able to experience two Christmas programs, both featuring children singing, one in Dinka and the other in English. At the Dinka service, a few hundred spectators gathered to watch the children dance and sing for several hours. The children changed clothes often, and performed various dances common in Dinka culture. I don’t understand Dinka, so I couldn’t interpret the meaning of the words they sung, but it appeared heartfelt and important. The English service was organized by British expats and featured the girls from CCC, where I stay. I’m accustomed to seeing the girls play games and laugh at my poor attempts to speak Juba Arabic. It was wonderful to see them dressed “smart” (the African way of saying dressed nice) while singing with pride before a church filled with expats, receiving their applause, and afterwards asking to be photographed to remember the moment.

Below are pictures from both services.   Enjoy.

Dinka congregation christmas carol performance

South Sudan Christmas carol celebration

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7 Responses to Christmas Season in Juba

  1. Maggie L R says:

    I spent some time in Kenya close to Christmas and there too things were simple, Christmas is the celebration of Christs birth, and has nothing to do with the Santa overspending frenzy of the western world. I think they have the right perspective in Africa.

  2. Patrice says:


    I enjoyed the blog. Was there a tree in the bank? This story left me wanting more.

    • Yes. There was a Christmas tree in the bank. It was an artificial tree that was decorated nicely. When I came back to Juba, I saw a few more trees which led me to believe that people put them up sometime after the 16th. Most people in South Sudan spend Christmas like we spend it back home, gathered with their family. They went for a worship service and ate big meals with their families.

  3. Josephine Rutledge says:

    I love the colors that the people are wearing.

  4. Sanetta says:

    Your blog post is so closely related to what my professor was saying this morning in my worship class. He was trying to stress how important the liturgical calendar is and why even free churches should think about following it. He said that if the church doesn’t tell the world what time it is then the world will (or rather the world is). Reading your blog makes me wonder if even Christians would know that Christmas is coming if the stores didn’t tell us 6 weeks in advance. If the stores didn’t make such a big fuss would Christians take over and begin preparing the world – taking off days to prepare, spending time with family, etc…?

  5. Melissa says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Darriel!

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