My South African Christmas…

I used to enjoy the traditional carols because they were either about Christ’s birth, or else the images of snow etc which cooled me down & conjured nostalgic memories of my only December spent in the Northern hemisphere (New England, USA… 1996 blizzards!). With time though, the non-religious carols started to grate me.

At first I thought it was just the connotations of commercialization of my saviour’s birth; but the Horn’s song (12 days of Christmas, South African style – mentioned in and then a picture (below) on another friend’s facebook page made me realise something… Neither of these was any less commercial, yet I identified with them strongly. One December many-many years ago… It was great & all, but it is only one, & bears little resemblance to the others in my life


(& for those foreigners who think I’m siding with a silly song in suggesting we don’t know about Christmas here in Africa… Get real! I just prefer a very different Christmas to yours.)

So apart from the birth of my savior, what is Christmas to ME?
Well its
🌞LONG, summer days
🌝Warm summer nights, often spent outdoors until bedtime
👙Sun caressing my exposed skin
👗Sundresses, bathers etc
🔥Meat eaten straight from the fire, or cold (preferably mutton or venison)
🍦Ice cream!
👭6 weeks without any school & 4 with no domestic help
💕6 month clear out towards charity
👪Friends, family & ‘adopted family’ (ppl whose families are far away, so they become part of ours)
💌Annual letters & cards
👣long walks along the sea or in the forests

🍻cold drinks shared among others (usually outdoors)

🍓🍒🍉fresh strawberries, cherries & watermelon (among other fruits)
🚴trampolines, bicycles & swimming pools

❄️& being swamped by UK & USA ideas of what Christmas should be…⛄️


istock omage


So I ask you, why should 🏂 be considered superior to 🏄 for Christmas?

For me, the best kind of white Christmas is covered in bleached sea sand rather than snow. I enjoyed building a snowman, but if I’m honest, its rather cold & I far prefer sandcastles. Sure we don’t do cutesy Christmas sweaters (jerseys) here, but a cutesy bikini would probably be more useful.

Eggnog & gluehwein (mulled wine) are great in winter, but a light bear or my granny’s lemon syrup are more refreshing. & as for turkey… Its ok on a sandwich packed with tasty stuff, provided the turkey is very thinly sliced (my dislike of turkey may stem from boarding school being my only childhood experience of it… & any recognizable turkey meat takes me straight back to boarding school pterodactyl drumsticks…). Even Christmas cake here is best made lighter than the recipes from up North.

Yes, snow does add a clean & magical element (at least until it gets dirty & sludgy), but it is also COLD! As uncomfortable 30+ C can get, snow is way off the comfort scale, & makes our ‘freezing’ (5C) weather in mid-winter seem seriously warm. The realist in me has to admit that I spent some days wearing more than 5 layers while outside (& the central heating does not help acclimatization). I understand why rich comfort food, and the glorification of snow works for that climate, but it fits neither my climate, nor my experience.

As someone who wants to hibernate when temperatures drop below 10C, I think I’ll take sun, sea & braais for Christmas instead of snow 😉

I hope you enjoy your Christmas wherever you are, & may you appreciate the other cultures & climates out there!


(PS: my children want to know what chest nuts are, what they taste like, why they are roasted on an open fire, & what they taste like. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one, never mind roasted & eaten one, so non-google answers welcome.)



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