Our guide to Christmas in South Africa

18 Dec Our guide to Christmas in South Africa

Many people go on holiday for Christmas; it is a trend which is becoming more and more popular each year. Similarly, emigration is becoming more popular, with many people leaving the country, and even Europe, for a taste of long-term adventure. If you are spending Christmas in South Africa for the first time, whether as a tourist or a new resident, you’ll need to know what a South African Christmas consists of. We have provided a basic guide to a South African Christmas to ensure that you know what to expect to enjoy it to the full.

The weather

As a primarily Christian country, there are many Christmas events and celebrations held all over South Africa. However, a South African Christmas will be a new experience for many expats and tourists. For a start, you can forget about snow; December marks the height of the South African summer.  Instead of wishing for a white, snowy Christmas dream of white sand; instead of dreading icy roads and cars, imagine sitting back and sipping an icy cocktail. Despite the weather contrasting to Bing Crosby dream, Christmas time is still a huge celebration within South Africa.

The religion

South Africa is home to hundreds of millions of Christian communities. As with England or America, the churches and cathedrals are lit with hundreds of candles and echo with the ring of Christmas carols. Although it may seem odd to many to have a warm, beach-oriented Christmas the traditions still remain. South African Christmas celebrations may begin with a family trip to the beach but, it is typically followed by an evening visit to a beautifully decorated church.

The familiarity

No matter where in the world you spend Christmas, whether you’re religious or not, there are bound to be some familiarities between your Christmas and a South African one to make you feel at home. For example, many schools and groups hold nativity plays and carol services. So, while you may be attending these in your summer dresses rather than your fleeces, an element of familiarity and tradition still remains. Turkey and roast beef are served with all of the familiar trimmings alongside a few South African dishes, containing rice and spices. If all of that familiarity isn’t enough mince pies are still widely available in South Africa, so even if the temperature doesn’t make you feel festive you can be sure that the food will!