Holiday Guest Post … Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen
Dec19

Holiday Guest Post … Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen

  Christmas in South Africa by Suzanne van Rooyen As a kid, Christmas was a strange and somewhat disappointing time of the year. All the Christmas songs we sang at school were about reindeer and sleighs, cold and darkness, chestnuts roasting on open fires and this mysterious white stuff called snow. Despite asking Father Christmas (never Santa Claus) for snow several years in a row and waiting anxiously for it to arrive, it never did. It wasn’t until I was 18 and spent December in Switzerland that I experienced a white Christmas and saw proper snow for the first time. The Christmas season kicked off for my family on December 16th – a public holiday in South Africa and the day the Christmas tree goes up. We had a real tree once or twice but they inevitably died in the sweltering December heat so we stuck with a plastic tree after that, replete with balls of cotton wool in imitation of the ever elusive snow. But after a while even that seemed silly so my brother, father and I built a tree out of wire and wrapped it in tinsel. This happened about ten years ago and that same tree is still in use today. Exhibit A: Wire crafted Christmas tree… Some of my fondest memories involve my large, extended family hanging out in the garden and playing Marco Polo in the pool while Christmas dinner cooked on the braai (South African version of a grill or barbecue). The best gifts were pool noodles and inflatable lilos. Christmas for me was never a stuffed turkey and vegetable casserole, but rather boerewors and salad. Christmas Eve usually involved a light supper and laying out the presents. For a while I left milk and cookies for Father Christmas but that eventually became beer and biltong – that was a year or two before I realised my dad was the one sneaking into the lounge to leave the last of the gifts. Our family, like most in SA, open presents on Christmas morning before the big day of family and feasting commences, which actually doesn’t stop until after December 26th. Although I’ve spent many more Christmases in South Africa, I’m lucky to have experienced this time of year in 3 other countries as well: Switzerland, Australia and Finland. While I do sometimes miss the sun and warmth of a summery festive season, I’ve got to say that there is something extremely special about a snowy, cold, dark December. And at least all the Christmas songs now make sense.   Suzanne van Rooyen Website Twitter   The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen...

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