This is the final episode in my Christmas Traditions series where I have asked a number of my fellow South African bloggers to share their traditions over the Christmas holiday and Festive Season.
If you want to catch up with the first two episodes, you can check them out at:
- Christmas Traditions
- Christmas Traditions – Part 2
Cherralle from My Daily Cake – Christmas in the Cape Flats
Rebecca from In These stilettos
So here is our tradition: I am muslim, as are my husband and children, so at home we do not “celebrate Christmas”. My family however, is Christian and I believe it is very important to raise the boys knowing and respecting all the world’s religions and beliefs. I still buy gifts for my family members, but I do not expect them to give any to me.
At Christmas time, my mum waits to finish the tree until my boys are home to help her hang all the last ornaments and decorations.
Growing up, Christmas in my family was a huge affair and all of my mum’s four siblings would travel from various Southern African countries back to my Gran’s house in Zimbabwe. Christmas eve is ALWAYS spent doing last-minute wrapping and fighting over sellotape and scissors (my mum and sister are pedantic about wrapping and their gifts are ornately decorated with ribbons, berries and twine, mine on the other hand look like a dogs breakfast).
Santa comes no matter what your age and even at 30-something I still wake up at the crack of dawn on Christmas day to open my stocking. To see my boys open stockings from “Mama Claus” is so so special to me. Christmas breakfast is usually a more simple affair of yoghurts, muesli, fruit, pastries and of course mince pies. Usually before lunch the family attacks all the presents under the tree. The youngest in the family has to play “postman” and hands out everyone’s gifts and heaven forbid if you tear any of the wrapping paper!!
The rest of the day is spent preparing for Christmas dinner, with the selected cooks being in the chicken and everyone else is usually swimming, napping or stealing Christmas chocolates. Christmas Dinner consists of chicken, turkeys, Ham (which we stay FAAAR away from J ), roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots and of course stuffing. Dessert is Christmas cake, mince pies and with the younger generation ice-cream. The Dinner table is a grand affair with my florist mother doing all the centerpieces, Gran’s best silverware out, and each side plate typically has a “little” gift on it. Woolies chocolate balls ALWAYS feature scattered on the table.
After Dinner its games time, charades and balderdash and the card game “21” (we have a less polite name for it) are always played.
Boxing Day is spent with friends visiting and is typically always outside by the pool.
I was so glad that Rebecca submitted her tradition because I’m very mindful of the fact that whilst South Africa celebrates the Christmas holiday there are so many people in this country who are not Christian. I was curious to see how people from the different religions spend their time over this festive season when they are bombarded with the Christian celebration. I also identify with Rebecca’s Zimbabwean Christmas because it’s so similar to how I spent mine as a child. Thanks so much for this Rebecca.
My Christmas Traditions.
The idea for this post came about when I started thinking about what exactly are my family’s Christmas traditions? I was starting to feel a little bit of panic and anxiety thinking that I don’t actually have any.
Growing up in Zimbabwe, as Rebecca said, Christmas was very family orientated. My sister and I alternated Christmas between our Mom and Dad.
Mom’s family Christmas was always crazy, there were always aunties, uncles and cousins and we would try our best to stay up and wait to catch Father Christmas! Clearly our parents knew all they had to do was wait us out before carting us to bed. Christmas morning my Grandpa would sit by the tree and hand out presents one at a time, drawing out the agony and just making it as fun as possible. After he passed the role of ‘wearing the santa hat and handing out the presents’ fell to whoever was the host that year.
After the lengthy Christmas present ceremony we would attempt to tidy up and then prepare for lunch! We’d use every available table and chair to create one long dining table which would then be filled with food, crackers, decor and most importantly – festive family love and noise!
Christmas with my Dad was very similar if a little less in terms of the numbers! We would still the do the present opening ceremony, the same way with Dad handing out the presents one by one. The main difference was that we would often spend it away camping or away with family friends! One year we used small branches from a Msasa tree to create a Christmas tree, and another year was spent in a soaking wet tent for about 10 days! That’s one holiday none of us will ever forget! 🤣
If we weren’t away, Boxing Day with Dad was spent visiting friends and hopping from one festive friendly home to the other over the whole of the Kadoma and Chegutu area where we grew up. It was always a fun day! I miss that.
The memories I have are all filled with family, laughs, love and chaos!
What is the reality of Christmas Traditions For Us Now?
The last few years our Christmas plans did not go according to plan. As I said above, I was starting to feel like I was letting my kids down as they don’t have that same kind of crazy family feel.
Thanks to “Bob aka Mugabe” most of my cousins and sisters are spread out all over the world – this is typical of most of us who grew up in Zimbabwe. 😪
What I realized reading everyone’s posts was that it’s not about what it used to be, it’s what you make of it now and how you make it happen.
This year we are having my Mom come spend Christmas with us in our home in SA. She flies in from Zim next week and we are already counting the days! No doubt, Christmas Eve will be spent wrapping gifts because I am always so bad at doing that in advance! We always get the girls to lay out a cup of milk and a carrot for Rudolf, whilst Santa gets a beer and some biscuits or Biltong (a tradition I have carried over from my childhood). Once the girls are in bed and asleep, I generally create a snow print track to the tree (incongruous really as it’s due to be about 30 degrees on Christmas Day!) The magic of belief.
On Christmas morning, the girls wake up super early to discover all the presents under the tree! My husband will don the Santa Hat and distribute the gifts one at a time, just as it was for me as a child, another tradition I’ve carried over.
The day itself will be spent with the girls playing with their new toys, swimming and just spending a lazy day at home whilst Mom and I cook lunch. Lunch will be late afternoon this year because we will wait for some of my husband’s family from Joburg to get to us.
The family, fun, love and festivity will all be there.
A new dimension that has become an integral part of our lives will be Skyping family in Zim, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Whilst it will never make up for the chaos of my childhood, at least modern technology helps bridge the gap a little!
Whatever you end up doing, I pray you spend it with family and friends, remember that it’s more about the giving than the receiving, and if you are traveling, please stay safe on the roads!
Merry Christmas everyone and thanks so much to everyone who was part of this unexpected series.