Christmas in Ghana is a religious holiday, and also a joyful harvest celebration, since it happens when the cocoa harvest comes in. People go to visit their friends and the week before Christmas is filled with revelry. On Christmas Eve, kids have a nativity play while drummers and singers provide music for dancing. The celebrations often begin in churches, but there are processions through the streets, and dancing in the streets all night. This festive custom may go on from December 20th until New Year’s.
Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, and the December cocoa harvest provides important income for the people of Ghana, so this is a good time to study chocolate. Our Chocolate Lesson Plans include geography, history, and economics.
The Night Before Christmas, illustrated by Rachel Isadora, features Santa in Kente cloth, a traditional type of fabric from Ghana. Kente cloth is woven in long strips, and then the strips are sewn together to create fabric. Look at pictures of Kente cloth for inspiration, using the book or the video below, and then have students create their own geometric patterns on sentence strips.
Kente cloth weaving is an art form, but new clothing is also an important part of Christmas celebrations in Ghana. Everyone receives new clothes as a gift at Christmas. Many U.S. families also have clothing traditions, ranging from new outfits for Christmas card pictures to new pajamas for Christmas Eve. Have students share any new clothing traditions they have for Christmas, and graph them.
The Christmas feast in Ghana usually includes a stew with chicken or goat meat and rice, plus fufu, a dish made with yams, cassava, plantains, or other starchy foods. Our Plant Lesson Plans include a tops and bottoms worksheet for sorting plants into those that provide food in the roots and those that provide food above the ground. Many students may be unfamiliar with cassava, plantains, and even with yams, so bringing some in to experience can be an interesting element of the lesson. Ask the lunch ladies to bake them for you, or cut chunks and microwave them. As the video below shows, fufu is not much like an American sweet potato casserole.
GeographyGeek has a nice set of photos of Ghana to download. Show these to students, find Ghana on the map, and notice that Ghana is near the Equator. If you’re studying Christmas Around the World, compare holiday celebrations in Northern climes like Sweden, Southern Hemisphere nations like South Africa , and equatorial nations like Ghana. How does the climate affect the celebrations?