Christmas in South Africa

Because South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in the summer. So there’s lots of sun and beautiful flowers in full bloom.

The schools are closed for the Christmas holidays and some people like to go camping. Going carol singing, on Christmas Eve, is very popular in towns and cities. Carols by Candlelight services are also popular on Christmas Eve. And many people go to midnight mass, or Christmas morning Church Service.

Traditional ‘fir’ Christmas trees are popular and children leave a stocking out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas meal is either turkey, roast beef, mince pies or suckling pig with yellow rice & raisins and vegetables, followed by Christmas Pudding or a traditional South African desert called Malva Pudding (sometimes also called Lekker Pudding). People also like to pull Christmas Crackers! The meal is often eaten outside in the summer sun! If it’s really hot they might even have a barbecue or ‘braai’.

South Africa also has several other UK Christmas traditions, because of its history with the UK.

On Christmas day afternoon, people visit family and friends or might go for a trip into the country side to play games or have a swim.

Boxing Day is also a public holiday in South Africa and again people like to be ‘out and about’ having a good time!

In Afrikaans (one the languages spoken in South Africa) Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Geseënde Kersfees’; in Zulu it’s ‘UKhisimusi omuhle’, in Sesotho it’s ‘Le be le keresemese e monate’ and in Xhosa it’s ‘Krismesi emnandi’. 

The text above comes from  this very interesting site.

In my family in South Africa though, we tend to stick to cold meats and salads as we are usually at the seaside and very hot. Cold cuts of chicken, roast beef, polony, ham are accompanied by mixed salad, potato salad, rice salad (curry, raisins, peaches, and rice – yum), beetroot salad, sliced pineapple rings, grated carrot salad, coleslaw and cold stuffing. For dessert we have trifle – nothing as delicious as that!

You can see in the photos below that the curtains are drawn to keep out the worst of the heat and sun in the middle of the day. We tend to open our presents mid-morning (the youngest member of the family hands them out) and then have tea and cake, followed by a large, late lunch.

The sea cottage where my family spends their Christmas holidays is in the small fishing village of Port Alfred, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Usually it is sleepy and quiet, with many retirees having moved there. It is not a rich town by any means, and the Eastern Cape is the poorest province in the entire country.

During the Christmas season, however, thousands upon thousands of people from the landlocked wealthier northern areas of the country (Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Pretoria) flock to all the coastal areas of the country with their families, towing their caravans and boats.

This means lots of income for the normally quiet coastal towns,  which come alive for about a month (mid-December to mid-January). This is high season for the entire coastal area of South Africa, so if you are thinking of visiting at this time of year, be prepared for shortages of accomodation and MUCH higher prices.






Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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