TRAVEL

A Summer Christmas In South Africa

Christmas is the time of the year when the world is filled with a magical glow and people look merrier while making the great treats for the celebration. Christmas is however celebrated in many particular and interesting ways throughout the world.

South Africa celebrates Christmas in summer since it falls in the Southern Hemisphere, unlike in the West where it is cold and snowy during the season. However, the sunny weather does not mean that the citizens forgo traditions such as Christmas trees, markets, and puddings. You will also have added options like swimming and outdoor barbecues.

During the Christmas holidays, schools and businesses close to allow people to take advantage of the summer season to enjoy and spend it with their loved ones. South Africa has amazing beaches, national parks full of wildlife, waterfalls, forests, mountains, and hiking, this gives you endless opportunities to have fun during Christmas. Families like to spend the day at the beach, go camping, or visit Kruger National Park.

South Africa has some of its traditions borrowed from the British, including Christmas traditions. This is especially evident among South Africans of British origins. The traditions include Christmas tree decorations and the different types of gifts exchanged.

Christmas Decorations

Many homes use pine branches for decorations or one may decide to buy artificial trees depending on the one that fits perfectly for their home. You will spot a Christmas tree in a room corner with gifts stuffed underneath like in many British homes. South Africans generally perceive the holiday as a day of eating well with enjoyment and exchange of gifts. Roast beef, yellow rice, turkey, vegetables, mince pies, and plum pudding are some of the foods prepared on Christmas day. The festival looks like a carnival with endless feasting, dancing, and singing.

Apart from the homes, you can find Christmas trees in businesses and shopping malls across the country. Back at home, some children hang stockings for Santa to leave goodies and gifts.

Other Christmas decorations include fake snow, tinsel, glittering baubles, and fairy light displays that are quite fun for both the parents and the children. Shopping malls have Christmas carols singing out with displays where kids go to sit on Santa’s lap and present their Christmas wishes.

Christmas Eve

In towns and cities, you will find people singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve. Larger centres hold Christmas Eve celebrations such as Carols by Candlelight, and special floor and screen shows.

Christmas Day

Church services are held on Christmas morning, those that do not attend a church service start the day by opening their presents. Also, adults and children represent the angels as they did in the fields outside Bethlehem by singing from house to house. Thereafter, families get together for a meal (more on that later). Many people invite their neighbours to celebrate together and also exchange gifts. Thereafter, some engage in backyard games such as cricket, go to the beach for a swim or take a well-earned afternoon nap since your belly is so full after the meals.

The Feast

This is the highlight of the entire celebration. Most families come together for a traditional roast turkey meal, beef, duck, or suckling pig with vegetables, raisins, and yellow rice.

You will also find salads, cold cuts, and delicious desserts such as the traditional Christmas pudding, the Lekker/Malva Pudding, or mince pies. Whatever you choose to eat, there is plenty of food for everyone with guests always warmly welcomed; even the unexpected ones.

Since Christmas falls in the summer, South Africans prefer eating outside while enjoying the beautiful weather. South Africans find every opportunity to have a braai (traditional barbecue) and bring out the meat while firing coals if the weather is extremely good.

A Summer Christmas

If you happen to be in South Africa during the festive season, you can spend Christmas Eve attending ‘carols by candlelight’ at the Albert Waterfront, the amphitheatre, or at the Kirstenbosch or any other vineyard outside of Cape Town. You will experience Christmas in summer and all that it has to offer. Boxing Day is also considered to be a public holiday in South Africa and people spend the day having a good time with their loved ones enjoying the summer breeze and the outdoor fun. There are so many magical and interesting things about Christmas in South Africa that no matter how one chooses to celebrate, you can make the most of this magical time of the year.

Extra tip

There are many languages spoken in South Africa. Here are a few ways to say that famous phrase, Merry Christmas:

  • Afrikaans – ‘Geseënde Kersfees’
  • Zulu – ‘UKhisimusi omuhle’
  • Sesotho – ‘Le be le keresemese e monate’,
  • Xhosa – ‘Krismesi emnandi’

Afrikaans speaking people refer to St. Nicholas as Sinterklaas, and Father Christmas as Kersvader.

Do you like the sound of a summer Christmas, or have you already experienced one? Let us know in the comments.




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