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FunTimes Magazine

Christmas Celebrations in South Africa

Dec 20, 2021 10:30AM ● By Anand Subramanian

Figure 1 - Christmas in South Africa. Source - Google

South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means they celebrate Christmas in the summer. In South Africa, unlike other areas of the world, there is no place for a cold, snowy Christmas. Instead, flowers are in full bloom, gorgeous butterflies, bees, and other insects are abundant, and the sun shines all the time. Around 350 million Christian communities inhabit South Africa. Even though Christmas traditions in South Africa are distinct, the spirit of the season stays the same. The decorations, markets, carolers, and Christmas supper (which is more of an outdoor meal in South Africa) help everyone get into the Christmas mood. Did you know that Merry Christmas is said in Afrikaans as "Geseende Kersfees," while Santa Claus is known as "Sinterklaas" and "Kersvader"? On that note, let's throw on our Santa hats and summer clothing because it's an opportunity to learn about Christmas in South Africa.

The yearly preparations for the celebration of Christmas begin months in advance, just as they do anywhere else in the globe. Schools around the country are closed for the holidays. Many companies lock their doors for the full month of December. The festive mood kicks off as soon as December comes in South Africa, and it kicks into high gear on Christmas Eve. On December 24th, people around the country create a lovely environment by gathering to listen to orchestras or choirs and singing along to well-known seasonal songs in a gorgeous setting. It is encouraged to attend one of the many Carols by Candlelight events to get into the Christmas spirit and genuinely enjoy the bliss of Christmas in the summer. Consider a large lawn, picnic blankets, a sea of candles, and an intoxicated mob chanting "Silent Night." Carols by Candlelight activities take place in Kirstenbosch Gardens, the V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre, and several vineyards. The Christmas tree is an omnipresent emblem of the season, and South Africa is no exception. Families adorn their houses with a Christmas tree, which is generally a store-bought copy of a genuine tree. Some houses go overboard with lights and decorations. Many important streets in Cape Town's city center, particularly Adderly Street, are illuminated at night with beautiful Christmas lights and decorations, including Christmas dolphins hauling Santas on sleighs. Crowds are also drawn to retail malls by their decorations, displays, joyful carols, and professional Santa impersonators. Some children are invited to sit on Santa's lap and present him with their Christmas wish lists.

Figure 2 - Christmas in Cape Town. Source - Google

Christmas celebrations in South Africa begin with gifts or church services on Christmas morning, December 25th, followed by a traditional Christmas feast or braai in the afternoon. South Africans often eat supper on Christmas Day (December 25th). Because of South Africa's excellent sunny weather, Christmas dinners are often served outside, in people's gardens next to pools, or on patios. The Christmas feast is the highlight of the entire holiday season. A roast featuring a variety of meats such as gammon, chicken, turkey, beef, and/or fish is common during the feast. Salads and roasted vegetables are provided as side dishes. Some families like a cold lunch with salads, cold meats, and fresh fruit. There is no genuine tradition when it comes to the choice of food for Christmas dinner - just a lot of items with a wide range to choose from. Invites can be extended to friends of friends and even strangers due to the easygoing mood.

Figure 3 - Traditional Christmas Food. Source - Google

Christmas is a beautiful time to travel and learn about the South African celebrations, which draw thousands of tourists. It has nice weather, and most people are on vacation, spending their time outside in the sun, playing games or packing the beaches. Cape Town is bustling with tourists who are taking advantage of everything the city has to offer. If people are weary of the usual snow-filled Christmas, a South African-style Christmas will be a pleasant change, as they will be greeted with unique traditions as well as brilliantly blooming wildflowers.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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