Snow is falling in Charlbury as we type, and our office is a joyous mess of colourful baskets, boxes and parcel tape as we busily pack up your orders and prepare for the last week of online sales. After a busy weekend of basket selling and battling with the snow in East London we're glad to be back in the warm…
This morning we’ve got Christmas tunes playing on the radio, and we’re thawing out with mugs of coffee and slices of lovely stollen from the local deli. Mmm! Yes, it’s a thoroughly festive scene here in the Cotswolds.
But as we await our latest shipment of beautiful woven baskets from Africa we can’t help wondering what Christmas time looks like in Nairobi and rural Kenya right now, where your ethical basket bags and bicycle baskets, woven planters and laundry baskets begin life. Working and communicating closely with our friends and colleagues in Nairobi gives us an insight into Kenyan Christmas: bright city lights, food, parties, and long journeys back home to the countryside. Sounds familiar!
So whilst Christmas in Charlbury is likely to include a few jugs of ale at The Bull Inn and some Morris Dancers, a frosty walk through Cornbury Park to spot the deer, and cosying up to watch The Snowman, a Kenyan Christmas might look a little bit like this…
Christmas is much more about ‘presence’ than presents in Kenya, and people don’t really exchange gifts. People get dressed up in their best outfits on the big day - much the same as we do here in the UK - and many will attend church on Christmas Day. Children will sing songs like Jingle Bells and traditional carols in school and in church in the lead up to Christmas, and shops and shopping centres are transformed into winter wonderlands whilst all the TV channels air Christmas movies. There will be several massive parties in Nairobi with fireworks, celebrity guests and music for those who want to dance all night!
DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Since lots of people living and working in Nairobi have come here from rural Kenya, a lot of travelling happens over the Christmas period as people board buses with their suitcases and journey hundreds of miles to be with their families for the festive break. The city itself can actually feel quite deserted on Christmas day.
FOOD and DRINK
Christmas is a total meat-fest in Kenya, and roasted goat is the go-to festive dish, as well as chapati. Some households will roast a whole cow at Christmas time, since Kenyan families are typically huge, with having as many as nine siblings being quite a normal thing. Nyama choma (‘roast meat’ in Swahili) is served in the finest restaurants to roadside shacks, eaten with the hands and often paired with a few glasses of the local beer. Typical side dishes include kachumbari salad (diced tomatoes and onion) and ugali – a starchy, polenta-like dish.
Whilst a winter wedding is seen as something of a novelty here in the UK, in Kenya everyone seems to get hitched at Christmas – perhaps because people are already heading home to spend time with their families.
Our baskets connect cultures, and we love sharing the stories behind our woven treasures. Keep an eye on our social channels for more behind-the-scenes peeks into the colourful world of the The Basket Room as we go about preparing for Christmas - here in the Cotswolds and over in Kenya.