sambatra

[sam-ba-chra] blessed to be happy|happy to be blessed

On the 11th Day of Christmas…

Eleven Pipers Piping!

Tratri’ ny Krismasy sy taona vaovao!  Merry Christmas and New Year!

Christmas pageant in Mahajanga

Christmas pageant in Mahajanga

So what is it like here in Madagascar around all these crazy holidays, you ask?  I can promise you that Christ is born and the New Year has come with many traditions of the Malagasy Fomba (the way) showing up in our lives.  Christmas for the Malagasy, not unlike in the States, is a time to be with family, to worship, to sing, and to celebrate the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.  There is little to no gift exchanging, but in some families it is customary to give the elders a bit of money in gratitude.  The greatest gifts given was in the simplicity of time with family and in the breaking of bread, I mean rice, over the holidays.

Pre-Christmas traffic in Antananarivo

Pre-Christmas traffic in Antananarivo

We were warned that the traffic would be nuts around Christmas, not that we missed that one from the States, but it made it feel like home, we guess.  Some people put up simple decorations such as garland, or maybe for those with electricity, a single strand of lights.  To our amazement our local Shoprite grocery store did play Christmas tunes, now that was a surprise.

40 Baptisms on Christmas morning!

40 Baptisms on Christmas morning!

Best of all was the simplicity of the holidays.  The hustle and bustle was more at bay, the focus of Christmas was on family and the Birth of Christ.  The churches were filled to the gills with services, pageants, concerts, and lots of baptisms.  Baptisms in The Malagasy Lutheran Church (in Malagasy it is known as the FLM: Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy) happen all year but Christmas morning is the most prominent day to come be showered in the waters of Grace in the Lutheran Church.  One of the volunteers in Mahajanga witnessed 40 baptisms on Christmas!

Aww shucks we got Christmas Carolers!

Aww shucks we got Christmas Carolers!

Not that it’s a Malagasy tradition, but we were blessed by some carolers on Christmas Eve! But indeed singing carols is very much a part of the Christmas tradition here, even some in english, either way we knew the tunes and sung along with great joy.

Samy ho tahin‘ Andriamanitra e!  May all of us be blessed by God!  Enjoy the final days of Christmas as we have been truly blessed, sambatra, by the Malagasy Krismasy Fomba.

Trtri‘ ny Krismazy sy taona vaovao,

-Austin & Tanya

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2 thoughts on “On the 11th Day of Christmas…

  1. Merry Christmas, Dear Ones! We hosted our first Staff Reunion in our new house last night. A bit crowded, but very joyful. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of yor celebrations. You are always in our prayers.

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