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Is there Christmas on the other side of the world? - Angelina van As

Is there Christmas on the other side of the world? - Angelina van As

When Jan van Riebeeck, a representative of the Dutch East India Company, landed with Dutch settlers at Cape of Storms (Cape of Good Hope) in 1652, a new chapter began in the history of South Africa.

Under the leadership of van Riebeeck, Kaapstad (Cape Town) and the Cape Colony were founded.

Subsequently, waves of settlers from Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, and Ireland brought with them not only their scarce belongings, but also new traditions, customs and, of course, the holiday of the Nativity of Christ.

As in many European countries, Christmas in South Africa is celebrated on December 25.


At first glance, the traditions are quite similar to European ones: holiday preparations begin in advance, houses and public places are beautifully decorated, there is a pre-holiday bustle in shopping centers, and schoolchildren have vacations. Many South Africans decorate Christmas trees in their homes and give each other presents. Christmas carols are heard everywhere, and church services are held on Christmas morning.

Everything seems to be as usual, but do not rush to conclusions.

First, think: What is this Holiday associated with?

When I lived in Russia, at the word ‘Christmas’, I used to picture to myself the following ideal image.

It is winter. It is snowing outside, people are rushing home to their families and friends. In the meantime, the hosts have laid a large table in the dining room, awaiting family members and guests. Firewood crackles slowly in the fireplace, and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner of the room.


Can it be otherwise? It turned out that it can. On the other side of the world, the scenario is slightly different.

It is a hot summer day. A table is set in the courtyard of the house. Birds are singing and the world is a riot of colors. The children are bathing in the pool while the traditional Potjiekos is being slowly cooked in the pot. The owner of the house is busy preparing braai, while lamb is being cooked on a spit in the courtyard of the house. And most importantly, don't forget about the ice in the freezer! Everyone will enjoy soft drinks on such a hot day.

How do you like this option? Are you surprised?


Yes, the main difference is that in South Africa, Christmas is celebrated in the middle of summer, as in the countries of the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed.

The differences do not end there.

In South Africa, on this occasion, it is customary to arrange a festive lunch, not a dinner.

The Christmas table is a real mixture of cultures and peoples.

Typically, at the table you can see such popular traditional dishes as:

"Potjiekos" (translated from Afrikaans "food in a pot") is a roast of meat and vegetables, potatoes or rice abundantly seasoned with spices.

They begin to cook Potjiekos early in the morning, so that by one o'clock in the afternoon the hostess can serve it. According to the recipe, the dish should simmer in a cast-iron pot.

While waiting, people usually have fun. Guests and hosts gather at a large table and chat on a variety of topics over a glass of wine or beer.


The next popular dish is "braai" aka barbecue. In South Africa, there is a cult of braai. The country even has a national holiday on this occasion, Braai Day, which is celebrated on September 24.

How is braai made? In reality, everything is very simple.

The host of the house kindles a fire, grills meat and vegetables. Meanwhile, women are usually busy preparing vegetable or potato salads.

Another popular dish is "Bobotie"- minced meat with rice, dried apricots, raisins and hot spices such as curry and chili.

Fruit pie and ice cream are common as a Christmas dessert, but quite often guests are offered other sweet treats as well.


And finally, if you are invited to visit for Christmas - do not forget to bring presents.

Most often, flowers are given to the hostess of the house, and wine to the host. It is customary to give sweets and small gifts to children.

If you have the time and desire, you can bring a dish you cooked yourself, and do not forget about bringing a good mood with you!

People in South Africa like to smile and share positive emotions! :)

Angelina van As, blogger.


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