It’s interesting to learn about Christmas celebrations in places faraway from the United States. Since I have set my novels in both South Africa and Australia, I decided to share their unique Christmas customs with you. Both countries have traditions similar to the United States, but they also have some that are quite distinctive.
Cape Town, South Africa Christmas is celebrated in the middle of summer in Cape Town. Since the weather is warm, Capetonians spend Christmas out of doors. Many visit one of the beautiful beaches and relax with a picnic lunch or dinner. They will also celebrate with the traditional South African braai or barbecue.
Another tradition is attendance at a Carols by Candlelight event. Capetonians bring a picnic basket, sit on blankets, hold lit candles and join in Christmas carol singalongs.
In Khayelitsha Township, a suburb of Cape Town, Vicky Ntozini, owner of Vicky’s Bed and Breakfast, throws an annual children’s Christmas party at which she provides sweet treats and simple gifts at no cost to parents. This is a lovely gesture on her part because many of these children live in impoverished conditions and would receive few gifts.
South Africa’s Christmas celebrations are as warm as their holiday weather.
Sydney, Australia The heat of early summer in Sydney, Australia has an impact on the way Australians celebrate Christmas. Like South Africa, Christmas Down Under is never White.
Also like Capetonians, Australians spend Christmas out-of-doors, going to the beach or a barbecue. One of the most beautiful Sydney beaches, Bondi Beach, will see more than 40,000 people on Christmas day.
Australia has some special Christmas carols. Australian’s came up with some local Christmas songs they sing alongside the more traditional carols. They capture the unique Australian Christmas experience. Here are some examples of songs you might want to give a listen to a couple: The Three Drovers, Aussie Jingle Bells, Carol of the Birds, Six White Boomers, and The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas are perhaps the best known of these. “Swag Man” works with Santa Claus Down Under. He can take the heat better than Santa who is used to the chilly North Pole. “Swag Man” spends all winter under Uluru with his dingoes then at Christmas time, he delivers his presents.
In some Aussie homes gum tree branches take the place of pine or fir Christmas trees. Pavlova coated with cream and strawberries and passion fruit often replaces the traditional plum pudding.
Australian Christmas customs are as unique as their kangaroos and duckbill platypuses.
More about Australia and South Africa: