While children in the northern hemisphere dream of a snowy white Christmas, in South Africa, it’s time for sun, sand and sea. Since it is summer in South Africa, the kids are out of school and families often flock to the beach or to peaceful nature reserves such as Kruger National Park.
On Christmas Eve you’ll find carolers on street corners and at homes throughout the neighborhood. Inside, children hang their stockings for Father Christmas to fill with nuts, sweets, toys, or in some homes, school supplies. The time-honored fir Christmas tree is most popular in South Africa, and is festively adorned, including hand-beaded African ornaments made by the local women. On Christmas day, many people attend church services in the morning, then spend the rest of the day with family and friends.
South Africans love to braai (barbecue) and Christmas presents the perfect opportunity. Think succulent marinated steaks and boerewors sausages, accompanied by crisp greens and pap, a porridge-like dish, with South African malva custard for dessert. Others prefer to salute their colonial British heritage with a traditional meal consisting of turkey, roast beef, mince pies, yellow rice with raisins, veggies and English plum pudding.
Did You Know?
With an average Jewish population of 70 – 85,000, Hanukkah is also celebrated in South Africa. The Jewish community in South Africa is a close-knit and religious group. More than 80 percent of Jewish children in South Africa attend a Jewish school, according to Jewish Virtual Library. In addition, it is estimated that there are between 60 and 80 functioning synagogues throughout South Africa — though the Gardens Shul in Cape Town, South Africa’s first synagogue built in 1841, is now a Jewish museum. While in South Africa you may add on an inspiring half-day excursion to the Gardens Shul Jewish Campus.