Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tamxarit – Senegal’s version of cross-dressing Halloween in December

Probably the most bizarre Muslim holiday is Tamxarit. It is the Muslim New Year celebration – and what better way to bring in the new year than dressed up as the opposite sex running around the village with your friends? Apparently the kids in Senegal cannot think of anything better to do, since that is exactly what they do. I’m sure if I were a few (well, several) years younger I would be doing the same thing, too.

As you can tell from the pictures below, some boys put their sisters’ skirts and shirts on, and wear head scarves while others just throw on random clothes, paint their faces, and/or run around beating a drum and dancing. Most girls wear their brothers’ “boubous” and some also paint their faces white like some boys. For several hours in the evening, the kids run around the village in groups asking each compound for something – most people give the kids millet, corn, peanuts, or rice. The kids then usually divide it up among themselves and give it to their families, or they may sell it and use the money to buy candy or cookies or some other treat.

This year Tamxarit was on December 26th (the date changes every year because the Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar so it is based on the moon) and I was glad I left our Christmas activities in Kaolack early to get back to Kaymor for Tamxarit – it was definitely an exciting night in Kaymor!

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