Yes, yes they do. Despite Bob Geldof and Midge Ure's ideas to the contrary, Africa is very much aware of when it's Christmas. At least Kenya definitely is.
For the past month or so there have been growing references to Christmas everywhere. There have been the odd Christmas songs played on the radio on my way to work in the mornings. Colleagues chatting about going up-country for the holidays.
The presence of Christmas is however, most keenly felt in Nairobi's shiniest shopping centres where hundreds of fairy lights and tinsel and decorations have been on display until November. The shops have been peddling cards, and wrapping paper and decorations just like they do at home. Most of the shops could have been airlifted straight from somewhere in Ireland. The only giveaway that we're not in Ireland is the fact that when you walk outside it's 23 degrees and sunny.
I, myself, am rather excited about Christmas here. Firstly it means a couple of days off work. And secondly, it will be a time of reunion for some of the gang that arrived here in November with me who have been working in different parts of Kenya. We should have about 7 or 8 people with us for dinner in Mountain View of Christmas Day. We'll be having a secret Santa, eating and drinking lots, watching some Christmas films/festive editions of TVs (one of the girls has Father Ted on her hard-drive so I'm advocating for us to watch that!) and playing parlour games. A lovely day to spend Christmas if you ask me!
Some things I am missing about Ireland at Christmas
It's wonderful to be spending Christmas here in Kenya and I'm so lucky to be spending with lovely friends, but there are a few things I miss about Christmas at home.
The Christmas edition of the RTE Guide. And the process of highlighting everything you want to watch in it.
Minced pies and mulled wine (though I'm heading to a party this evening that might have one or both of these which is making me ridiculously excited).
The Christmas lights on Grafton Street.
Novelty Christmas jumpers.
Tins of Roses.
My Mum cleaning out every single cupboard and shelf and putting every piece of glassware and crockery in the dishwasher only to have less than 20% of it used over te Christmas period.
A Muppet Christmas Carol on TV.
The Christmas morning CD swop. Where all of us, bar my Mum, sit with our laptops and rip all of the different CDs that we got from Santa so that we have 10-12 new albums in the space of an hour.
Complaining about the fact that there is nothing good to watch on TV after dinner on Christmas Day.
The annual Wickham family game of Cluedo after dinner (prompted by the aforementioned fact that there is nothing on telly)
Turkey salad, turkey fajitas and turkey sandwiches for the 3 days after Christmas.
The tiny glimmer of hope that it might, just might be a White Christmas.