Reinventing Christmas – the South African way

I can’t believe it – Christmas is one week away and I officially have only three working days left before my husband and I take a well-deserved break!

Santa Claus on holidayChristmas time in South Africa is a major holiday period.  Most companies shut down, the schools are closed, and construction grinds to a halt. It’s the peak of summer time – South Africa is in the southern hemisphere of course – which means a myriad of outdoor activities in the sun, swimming, eating and relaxing.  People pack their swimming costumes, sun screen, slip-slops and braais (barbeques for those that need clarification) and head down to the beautiful South African coasts.

It can hardly be called a traditional Christmas by international standards!  No snow, no cold weather and no hot drinks by a warm, crackling fire.  Well, at least that’s how I picture a “white Christmas”.  Strangely though, despite our hot climate, it seems that the whole Christmas experience is still portrayed as a European one.  Fake snow spray-painted adorn shop windows, plastic snowflakes hang as decorations, fake fir trees act as the traditional Christmas tree, and sometimes even cotton wool or silver tinsel is added to give a snow-like effect on the tree.  In the shopping malls, kiddies queue for a chance to be photographed with Santa Claus sitting in an authentic looking North Pole scene, and Christmas carols ring out telling a joyful tale of jingle bells, dreaming of a white Christmas or dashing through the snow. 

The Christmas Baobab Tree at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The Christmas Baobab Tree at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

I love the whole Christmas splendour and consider it my favourite time of year.  However, a cold snowy Christmas is just never going to happen for us!  I can just imagine how fun it would be to reinvent Christmas – the South African way!  So here are my top five suggestions for bona fide South African festive cheer:

  • Instead of a Father Christmas clad in his red winter woollies and sitting in a winter wonderland, how about the image of Santa Clause taking a holiday in South Africa? How cute would he look bare bellied in long red baggy shorts, wearing slip-slops and sunglasses?  Now that’s South African!
  • Let’s ditch the fake white and green fir trees, and opt for a metal baobab tree (for example) that can be decorated with true African flair.  That means Frosty the snow man figurines and sparkly snowflakes are out, and carved wooden and beaded decorations are in.
  • In fact, no more fake snow – ever!  I don’t even have an alternate suggestion … just no more fake snow under any circumstance (just ignore the falling snow on my blog site) :-P
  • For Christmas lunch, swop out the piping hot glazed gammon, stuffed turkey and lamb roast served with roasted potatoes and vegetables for cold turkey, and other cold meats of choice, with a creamy potato salad and a crisp green salad.  A good wholesome braai would also be a great South Africa option.  The same can be said for the hot pud:  a boozy trifle, syrupy koeksisters and a fridge milk tart are excellent dessert alternatives. There is only one exception here:  Malva Pudding splashed with cream or cold custard.
  • Why do we drink egg nog, sherry or gluhwein? Doesn’t it defeat the objective to warm yourself up when you’re standing under an air conditioner trying to escape the summer heat?  I’m voting for cooler substitutes such as chilled sparkling wine, refreshing cocktails and icy cold juices.

And here’s my last word for 2012:  have a ball, be safe, and most importantly, appreciate what you have and with whom you share your life. 

In all eleven of our official languages: “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year”; “Geseënde Kersfees en voorspoedige Nuwejaar” (Afrikaans); “Ukresimusi omnandi nonyaka omutjha omuhle” (IsiNdebele); “Keresemese e monate le mahlohonolo a selemo se setjha” (Sesotho); “Mahlogonolo a Keresemose le ngwaga wo moswa wo monate” (Northern Sotho); “Masego a Keresemose le Boitumelo mo Ngwageng o Mošwa” (Setswana); “Khisimusi lomuhle kanye neMnyaka lomusha lonenjabulo” (SiSwati); “A ku vi Khisimusi lerinene naswona a ku vi lembe lerintshwa lerinene” (Xitsonga); “D.uvha l.a mabebo a Murena na N.waha muswa zwavhud.i” (Tshivenda); “Krisimesi emnandi nonyaka omtsha onamathamsanqa” (IsiXhosa); and “Ukhisimusi omuhle nonyaka omusha onenjabulo” (IsiZulu).


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3 thoughts on “Reinventing Christmas – the South African way

  1. J. E. Lattimer December 31, 2012 at 10:30 Reply

    Hello- I don’t know if you participate in the awards on WordPress or not, but I nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. More details can be found here: Keep up the great work and enjoy the day! :)


    • Teatart January 11, 2013 at 09:41 Reply

      Thanks so much for the accolade and recognition! Wow! :D


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