A Guide to Christmas in South Africa | How is the holiday celebrated?

A Guide to Christmas in South Africa | How is the holiday celebrated?

Are you tired of cold and snow? Then why not spend Christmas in South Africa? This is a joyous celebration filled with lots of family time and plenty of delicious food. And since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, the holiday comes in the summer, and there are a lot of sun and beautiful flowers in full bloom, making your stay memorable. This article has a detailed guide on how the holiday is celebrated.

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How does Africa celebrate Christmas?
Xmas is a joyous celebration filled with lots of family time and plenty of delicious food. Photo by Micheal Greenberg
Source: Getty Images

The December festive season is celebrated worldwide in many varied and unique ways. Africa also has its traditions and customs regarding marking the most important date on the Christian calendar. From candlelight carols to outdoor feasts, Christmas in South Africa is fun, and you should not miss out! So how is Christmas celebrated and observed? See the guide below:

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History of African Christmas

Is Christmas a big deal in South Africa? Very much so! It is a special day that people commemorate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Although historians are debating the actual date of his birth, the overall accepted date is December 25th. So, when African people decorate trees during this period, they are sending regard to ancient times.

How do they celebrate Christmas in South Africa?

Is Christmas a big deal in South Africa?
Some of the activities that people indulge in are visits to various attractions such as the Kruger National Park and the beach huts in Muizenberg, where you can take pictures. Photo by Gregg DeGuire
Source: Getty Images

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Schools are usually closed during this time, and everyone is usually at home with their families. Shops and other businesses usually close and post notices on their doors saying they are closed for the holiday. Some institutions close for the entire month of December to mark these celebrations.

Some of the activities that people indulge in are visits to various attraction sites such as the Kruger National Park and the beach huts in Muizenberg, where you can take pictures. The area is also a famous surfing town known for freezing water, sharks and fantastic seafood restaurants.

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Other beautiful and familiar beaches to visit are Plettenberg Bay, Camps Bay, Clifton Beach, Bloubergstrand, Sodwana and Durban's South Beach. You can also attend a summer music festival, outdoor movies and rooftop concerts. These are great ways to have fun and meet new people in South Africa.

Xmas Eve

On the eve, carolers make their rounds decorating the city. Churches hold their services, and the celebrations get better. South African Christmas decorations are also evident. Pine branches are used in many homes, and most families have a Xmas tree in a corner, complete with gifts for the children. The celebrations are also marked by singing, dancing and feasting.

Special food eaten on Christmas in South Africa

This is a day for people to eat their favourite and delicious meals. Plum pudding, mince pies, vegetables, turkey, yellow rice, roast beef and other variations of festive dishes add a taste to the celebration. Later there is a feast of rice and yam paste (fufu) with stew or okra soup, porridge, and meats. Families eat together with close neighbours and even exchange gifts.

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In South Africa, it is a long-held tradition to celebrate Xmas Day lunch in the early afternoon. However, it is slowly shifting as more people are opting for an Eve dinner. With an Eve dinner, people have ample time to relax on this special day.

The Xmas lunch is often eaten outside in the beautiful weather, South Africans never miss a chance to have a braai (barbecue), and if the weather is perfect, they will fire up the coals and bring out the meat.

On Xmas Day

What is Christmas called in South Africa?
In South Africa, it is a long-held tradition to celebrate Xmas Day lunch in the early afternoon. However, it is slowly shifting as more people are opting for an Eve dinner. Photo by Rodin Eckenroth
Source: Getty Images

How does Africa celebrate Christmas? First, carols awaken people. Next, families and friends exchange gifts such as books, clothes, sweets, and more. Then, a church service is conducted in which the Xmas scene is enacted, and hymns and carols are sung.

What is Christmas called in South Africa?

Famed as the rainbow nation, South Africa is home to different cultures and languages, including 11 official languages. Therefore, there are many different ways to call the holiday. Some of the most common ways include:

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  • Geseënde Kersfees – Afrikaans
  • UKhisimusi omuhle – Zulu
  • Krismesi emnandi – Xhosa
  • Le be le keresemese e monate – Sotho

How long does a Christmas celebration last in South Africa?

Celebrations last for two days. Those businesses that stay open find it challenging to get anything done. The 25th and the 26th of December are both public holidays. Most shops are closed over these two days, but it is still possible to do some grocery shopping at large outlets like Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay.

What countries do not celebrate Christmas?

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bhutan, North Korea, Libya, Mauritania, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen do not recognize Xmas as a public holiday.

Amazing Christmas facts

African Christmas
People give cards to convey their feelings to their loved ones. Photo by Gregg DeGuire
Source: Getty Images
  • The holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • The term Xmas means Christmas.
  • Santa Claus was known as Sinterklaas in Dutch.
  • The Xmas wreath is a symbol of love and eternal life.
  • Baby Jesus received some beautiful gifts when he was born.
  • Santa Claus did not always dress up in red clothes.
  • The mistletoe is the symbol of love and laughter!
  • People give cards to convey their feelings to their loved ones.

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The above guide has everything you would love to know and other interesting information about Christmas in South Africa. The celebration is about festive concerts, sunny outdoor feasts and street parades. For almost everyone in Africa, Xmas is a time to gather with friends and family, attend church and enjoy a big feast – but every country also has unique festive traditions. Visit them and enjoy this great and memorable experience!

READ ALSO: When is Father's Day 2022? Date, history and celebration ideas

In other news, Briefly.co.za reported on June 15, 2022, about Father's day 2022. What day is Father's Day 2022? This year's Father's Day will be celebrated on 19th June 2022. The occasion is observed yearly on the third Sunday of June.

What makes the day unique? It was created to honour all dads, granddads, and father figures, and it complements Mother's Day, which is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year. Read more here!

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