Christmas ZAbroad: rekindling the spirit of South African Christmas

Christmas comforts of a South African ZAbroad

Christmas comforts of a South African ZAbroad

I always have mixed feelings about Christmas. Whether you celebrate the birth of Christ or the coming of Santa, it's a time when the world entire decorates, travels and spends time with family. For me, Christmas is sunshine, food, a braai, and family usually followed by a holiday on the West Coast.   Maybe its because I haven't had a proper South African Christmas in a while or perhaps because 2016 good and properly kicked my butt. But this year, more than ever, I am nostalgic for Christmas at home. 

Perceptions of a truly South African Christmas is probably as diverse as our rainbow nation itself, but this year I am bringing anything and everything South African into my home.


Having spent more Christmases away than home over the last few years, I've experienced the festivities of many different countries.  I've had my white Christmas, ambled through magical Christmas markets sipping on spiced wine and tucked into the cinnamon biscuits.  I enjoyed stuffed turkey, seafood extravaganzas, including salted codfish bacalao and romeritos.  All wonderful experiences, but I am inconsolable this year.  I want to be home.  And because I can't, I am bringing South Africa to Spain.  

In the spirit of nostalgia, I am doing things I haven’t ever done without the supervision of my mom and late Gran.

I sent out Christmas cards; carefully selected, hand-written Christmas cards. My natural tree has been up for 3 weeks, complete with ribbons I sewed myself.   I baked.  I brew spicy Rooibos sticks with citrus fruits and spice for colleagues at work.  If I can find the poppers, I might even try my hand at making my own Christmas crackers.  

Our Spanish friends are coming over for a lunch that will consist of a selection of cold meats, beautiful salads and trifle for pudding. Oh, and the trifle be traditional with ginger, nuts and green fig - not the instant pudding, chocolate mousse and Orley Whip variety.  They will sit down to the last of my Afrikaans-word napkins, candles and African placemats. They'll consider it a cultural experience and return to their tables of Spanish jamon, sorbet, seafood and real champagne. It's wonderful too, but different and different in a moment when all I want is familiarity.  On that note, a very merry Christmas time and festive period to all of you.  Be merry, be bright and above all, be thankful.