Travel and Home

We all celebrate Christmas with some sort of a special tradition, but if there is one thing traveling the world teaches you, it is that we are actually all very much the same.  Bottom line:  We love good food.  So let’s explore the world and the Christmas traditions people love on the content of Africa. (Which naturally includes food…)  🙂

Africa as a Continent - Celebrating Christmas

South Africa

In early December the schools in South Africa close for the Christmas holiday which is during Africa’s summertime.   Many people head to seaside destinationsCaroling is popular and Christmas Markets, although sometimes more focused on food and wine than Christmas gifts, are a huge hit, particularly in South Africa.

Carols by Candlelight services (one of the many Christmas traditions in Africa) already starts in November and schools have their yearend Christmas shows also in November.  On Christmas Eve many churches have services or midnight mass.

Santa Clause / Father Christmas (Kersvader / Vader Kersfees in Afrikaans) brings presents to the children.  Most people open presents on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning people go to Church where after a huge lunch is served.  After lunch friends and family visit and have a fun afternoon together.

Traditional Christmas food:  Some people prefer to braai due to the fantastic summer weather.  Others prefer a table served with gammon, meatballs, chicken, turkey, duck, rice, vegetables, and salads and then there is the traditional Trifle for pudding.

How to say Merry Christmas in South Africa: 

  • In Afrikaans: Geseënde Kersfees
  • Zulu: Jabulela Ukhisimusi
  • Sesotho: Kereseme e monate
  • Xhosa: IKrismesi emnandi
  • You may also come across other languages like Portuguese.  Then Happy or Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Natal’.
  • Africa is a continent with many languages.  But mostly you can say ‘Merry Christmas’ (in English) and everyone will understand you.
Blouberg

Saying Merry Christmas in Madagascar

People greet each other with  ‘Arahaba tratry ny Noely‘ which means Merry Christmas.

Poinsettias is a favorite plant to have indoors in South Africa during Christmas time.  However, in Madagascar, it grows as large outdoor shrubs.  (The Poinsettia is Native to Madagascar.)

In Madagascar families normally eat Christmas dinner together. Dishes like Chicken and/or Pork with rice and fresh fish and fruit are popular.  They also have a special cake they make, referred to as the Malagasy Cake

One of our favorite Trifle Recipes

A Christmas-time favorite in South Africa.

Traditional South African Trifle Rhodes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packet (80 g) red jelly
  • 1 medium Swiss roll, sliced
  • 65 ml (¼ C) brandy, sherry, or fruit juice
  • 500 – 750 ml Hinds custard prepared according to pack instructions
  • 825 g Rhodes Peach Slices in Syrup, drained
  • 375 ml whipped, sweetened cream
  • 1 x 410 g Rhodes Quality Fruit Cocktail in Syrup, drained
  • 1 x 115 g Rhodes Quality Granadilla Cup

METHOD

  1. Prepare the jelly as per the pack instructions and place it in the fridge to set slightly, but not yet firm.
  2. Arrange the Swiss roll slices in a large bowl and drizzle with brandy, sherry, or fruit juice and cover with a thick layer of the Hinds custard, followed by half of the jelly.
  3. Arrange the Rhodes Quality Peach Slices on top of the jelly, cover with a thin layer of custard, followed by the rest of the jelly, and place in the fridge to set, about 4 hours.
  4. When set, pipe or spoon the whipped cream on top and arrange the Rhodes Quality Fruit Cocktail on top.
  5. Drizzle with the Rhodes Quality Granadilla and serve.

Recipe and Photo:  https://www.rhodesquality.com/recipes/traditional-trifle/

Réunion Island

Reunionese tables usually have the following traditional dishes during Christmas time: Lobster and other curries, Creole pâté, along with rice, broad beans and mango rougail.  They also have the traditional Christmas log made with sweet potato and for pudding a choice of lychis and other fruit.

On this island you can experience the Christmas traditions in Africa in many ways.  One of which include hanging around at the beach. 

Sweet Potato Christmas Log Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g butter (sovaco)
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 sachet of vanilla flavored sugar
  • A little liquor (anisette or Marie Brizard)

METHOD

  1. Boil 1kg sweet potatoes
  2. Peel and crush them
  3. Mix with 250g butter, 100g sugar, 1 bag of vanilla flavored sugar, a little liquor, 3 eggs
  4. Place in log shaped mold and glaze over with egg yolk
  5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 180°C

Namibia celebrates Christmas much like South Africa, where gatherings with friends and family are important.  (Actually, that is important all around the world.  No matter where you celebrate Christmas.)  On Christmas eve some people go to midnight mass and Christmas day is also a day to go to church.  As Namibia has a lot of German influence, many people still make traditional German cookies for Christmas.  Most of the towns switch their Christmas lights on on the 6th of December each year.

How to say Merry Christmas in Namibia:  Languages such as English, German and Afrikaans are spoken in Namibia. The English version of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is widely understood.  Or you can say ‘Frohe Weihnachten’ (German) and ‘Geseënde Kersfees’ (Afrikaans).

Christmas cookies known as Weihnachtsplätzchen are a favorite during Christmas time:

  • Lebkuchen – traditional German gingerbread,
  • Bethmännchen – traditional marzipan cookie,
  • Dominosteine – Gingerbread with marzipan and chocolate.

Apple Fritters (Appelbeignets aka Appelflappen) is also a favorite.

Appelflappen recipe

Delicious Appelflappen Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 baking apples (Spy, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith work well)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk

METHOD

  1. Peel and core apples, cut into slices to form rings about 1 ½ centimeter thick.
  2. Beat egg into the milk and add to dry ingredients. The result should be the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Dip apple rings into batter and deep fry until golden brown on both sides. Fry only 3 or 4 slices at a time allowing plenty of space to flip the slices over.
  4. Drain on paper towels and let cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Place on a tray and sprinkle with icing sugar. 

Kenya

In Kenya Christmas foods include goat meat, sheep, beef or chicken served with rice and chapati (a flat bread).  In the city and tourist areas, the meals are however more western and you will have much more options. 

They do have a Father Christmas that hands out presents to good children.  A Christmas tradition in Africa that all kids love (sometimes also the ‘older kids’).

How to say Merry Christmas in Kenya

In Swahili/Kiswahili: ‘Heri ya Krismasi’ and in the Maasai language (also called Maa or Kimaasai) it’s ‘nchipai e Kirismas’.

Festival Tours

Seychelles

The majority of Seychellois, on December 24, attend the Midnight Mass to celebrate Christmas Eve. Then there is another mass the next morning for the birth of baby Jesus. 

But as you can expect with the ocean being around 28 degrees, most of the day is spent on the beach.  Here you can have a ‘quiet getaway’ during Christmas time and enjoy some well deserved rest and relaxation.

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