Christians account for about 40% of the Nigerian population, living throughout the country but predominantly in the south. The main Christian festivals are Christmas and Easter. The way in which these holidays are celebrated often incorporates traditions from earlier religions.
Christmas is held on 25 December each year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a public holiday in Nigeria. In Igboland, in addition to a church service and distribution of gifts the festivities may include Mmo (masquerade) dancing, where men in their twenties or thirties dress in colorful costumes and wear masks. These masquerades, which pre-date the introduction of Christianity, honor the ancestral spirits. In some areas, palm branches are hung inside and outside the houses, signs of peace and symbols of Christmas. Easter is held to commemorate the crucification of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and to celebrate his resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday. It is a public holiday in Nigeria. Easter usually occurs in April. Easter Sunday is a joyful occasion, celebrated with feasting, dancing, drumming, and sometimes with public masquerades and dancers.