The majority – around 80 % – of the South African population are Christians. As South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas takes place in the summer. This makes the Christmas celebrations mostly an outdoor event.

Christmas comes in the middle of the South African summer. Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and everything is warm and alive. But even in the warmth of the summer people are in a festive mood and celebrations, decorations and large Christmas markets and carolers that goes from house to house, soon will get you into the right Christmas spirit.


Outdoor Christmas launch and dinner


South Africans have a great affinity for outdoor activities. So Christmas lunch and dinners are held outside in the warm summer. The Christmas meal is either turkey (or duck), mince pies, roast beef or so-called suckling pig with yellow rice, raisins and vegetables. For dessert is served Christmas Pudding, Plum Pudding or a traditional South African desert called Lekker Pudding.

The meal can be cooked the traditional way or done as a barbecue or “braai”, which is the local word for it. After the lunch or dinner, gifts are exchanged within the families and often also between close neighbors and friends.


Traditional Christmas the South African way


In the towns and villages, the homes are decorated with pine branches and in most homes, you will find a decorated Christmas tree – called “fir” – in a corner with gifts for the children. Due to the german and dutch influence Santa Claus is also known as Sinterklaas & Kersvader. In the english speaking homes – which often have British Christmas traditions – children leave a stocking out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and wait in impatiently for Christmas morning.

In the afternoon on Christmas day, people visit family and friends or meet to play some games or have a swim. Some transforms the Christmas lunch to a picnic and go for instance camping in the Kruger National Park to celebrate Christmas.

On Christmas Eve the dinner is – as already mentioned – served outdoors and in the towns, carolers make their rounds from house to house singing traditional and South African Christmas carols. A church service is held where people meet in their best clothes, either in their native attire or in a more western looking style.

In the larger cities special Christmas floor shows are held in central places. These are large shows and are very popular in the bigger cities and often also transmitted by television.

This is South African Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Mpala Lodge


From Mpala Lodge we send our best Christmas wishes to all our readers, upcoming, current and former guests, as well as all of you who follow us here on our website.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!