The Christmas/New Year season—the yuletide—coincides with the harmattan or dry season in Nigeria, during which dusty and dry trans-Saharan trade winds blowing across the Gulf of Guinea in late November to December bring the rainy season to an end.
The end of the rains is signal for the commencement of the season for inter-regional trading activities. Trading activities are at a low ebb during the rainy months, and almost grinds to a halt at the height of the rains in July and August.
The planting season begins with the rains and while the rains last, the myriads of small and medium businessmen who come from the inland regions to the coastal region for trade turn to farming. Trading businesses in the coastal regions of the south experience a lull in business during the rainy months for this reason.
Iwo road is a major center for building materials. Major building materials importers in Iwo road include the famous Uchekinze & Sons.
Beside the effect of the farming season on business, the rainy season is not the best time for commercial traveling, especially when you deal in goods that are liable to spoilage or damage in rain. In a country where the railroad haulage service is non-existent, poor road network that becomes waterlogged or even entirely washed away in floodwater increases the risk of commercial travelling during the rains. Thus, most traders stock during the dry season and decrease the frequency of their trips to the coast to restock for sales during the rainy months.
But once the rains are over and harvest done, northern farmers hit the road again as traders and flock to the coastal region. The influx of traders from the inland during the dry season stimulates commerce and there is a general increase in the tempo of activity in the southern cities of Lagos and Ibadan.
The never-ending stream of humanity at Gate. Gate is famous center for second-hand goods. Note the woman with the baby strapped to her back. This is the customary method for carrying babies. Nigerians never carry their babies in prams.
Lagos is the major port of entry of goods to Nigeria and the Lagos metropolis is the ultimate destination for commercial travelers from the inland wishing to purchase essential commodities and businessmen restocking ahead of the next rainy season. The hustle and bustle of life in Lagos during the dry season is due mostly to the increase in inter-regional human traffic related to trading activities, rather than to the fact of Christmas and New Year festivities.
Ibadan enjoys the spill-over effect of commercial activities in Lagos during the dry season. Major trading centers in Ibadan such as Iwo road and Agbeni market have importers and wholesalers. Many commercial travelers from the northern hinterland stop in Ibadan to make their purchases.
Thus, the increased tempo of business activities in the Lagos-Ibadan axis is not due to the Christmas-New Year festivities per se, but because the dry season is the time traders from the northern regions come down to the southern coast to restock ahead of the next rains.
A little less than fifty percent of Nigerians are Muslims,and they are largely indifferent to the Christmas festivities. The major festival seasons for Muslims are the Eid-el-Adha and Eid-el-Fitr festivals fixed on the Arabic lunar calender which shifts constantly relative to the official solar Gregorian calender.
Among the Yoruba, for instance, the Christmas festival is often almost derisively referred to as "odun kekere," that is, the "small festival" because it is not considered an important festival. Christmas celebration tends to the low-keyed even among Nigerian Christians who look forward to the New Year as the major festival, termed "odun nla," that is "big festival."
For Muslims, Eid-el-Adha ("Ileya") is the ultimate "big festival," not Christmas or New Year.