Christmas in South Africa falls in the summer season. The children are on a month long holidays from school and people take this time off from their work as well. Most people usually celebrate Christmas Day outside in their house gardens or down at the beach so that they can be together with family and friends.
As it is summer time in South Africa during Christmas, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and everything seems so alive. All that vitality is brought to life even more by the festivity of Christmas. Just like any other place in the world, the preparations for the celebration of Christmas begin way in advance. Some businesses are closed for the whole month of December. Shops and business institutions post notes on their doors saying "We are closed for the holidays".
Many people like to go camping. Carol singing on Christmas Eve is also very popular in South Africa . Carolers can be seen easily in towns and cities. Even though Christmas in South Africa has many differences from Christmas in the rest of the world, the actual traditions and festive spirit are quite similar.
Houses and markets are well decorated. Elaborate Christmas dinner (which in South Africa is sort of an outdoor lunch) and carolers bring Christmas spirit and festivity in the wind. As there is no snow at Christmas time, artificial white Christmas are used. In contrast to rest of the world, the joy of the Christmas is expressed by the countless varieties of beautifully cultivated flowers.
On Christmas Eve, carolers make their rounds in the cities and towns. Christmas Eve celebrations in larger centers include "Carols by Candlelight" and many other screen and floor shows. Church services are held on Christmas morning.
Houses are decorated with pine branches and many families set up a decorated Christmas tree in a corner, surrounded by gifts for everyone at home. For native Africans, Christmas Day is a day of good eating, exchange of gifts to add up the enjoyment. Plum pudding, turkey, yellow rice, mince pies, vegetable, roast beef, salad and other variations of traditional dishes gives an authentic touch to the celebratory mood.
The festival is more of a carnival-like week of singing, dancing and feasting. Children hang up their stockings for Father Christmas to fill up with gifts. The women wake up bright an early, ready for a busy day full of tasks, making sure everything is neat and set up before visitors appear. In some places in Africa, the community would have a lucky dip to choose which house everyone would be going to on Christmas day.
On Christmas Day, children and adults, representing the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem, go from house to house singing carols. Church services are held on Christmas day where people dress in their native attire or Western costumes. Later on, there is a grand feast of rice and yam paste called fufu along with stew or okra soup, porridge and meats.
Families eat together with close friends and neighbors, and gifts are exchanged. In the evening, the children and adults do traditional dancing. This involved linking arms together and kicking the legs up in the air. The teenage kids and adults sing and play the drums. Friends and family members sing the jingle and party till midnight.