My Long Running And Mostly Internal Debate On The Non-Existent Original South African Traditions (Part 1)

Every year when Christmas comes around I start thinking along these lines. Nearly everything we celebrate here is borrowed (or stolen, LOL) from other countries and cultures. Here are some examples: Santa Claus, Guy Fawkes, Halloween, Christmas trees (fir), Christmas turkey, even fake snow* as much as I love Christmas I often think that maybe I should try and come up with something original to celebrate it. No- I haven’t thought of anything in particular* and yes I also go bos at Christmas with the tree and everything.
But let’s look at it anyway. December is easily the hottest time of the year in our country- when half the population moves to the coast. So why on earth do we subject hundreds or men of all ages to the torture of long-sleeved-fur-trimmed-hooded-bearded-and-often-padded-suits in this heat- did you know that Santa Claus’ red and white clothing was a marketing gimmick dreamed up by Coca Cola? And why oh why do so many of us slave away in stiflingly hot kitchens cooking massive meals like turkey and ham when we should be outside by the pool with cold beer, watermelons and cold meats or a braai? I mean, nearly every country has something traditional that they cook at this time of year- the Czech Republic for example has fish soup and fried fish (most often, carp) served with potato salad- it should be the first food consumed that day. And before the Christmas holidays, many kinds of sweet biscuits are prepared. Denmark has apple dumplings sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with strawberry marmalade, and they have Christmas beer, mulled wine and rice pudding with almonds served with cherry sauce. Finland does freshly salted salmon, mixed fruit soup or prune soup and gingerbread. Germany especially has beautiful traditions that are vastly different to all the other countries- and their Saint Nicholas traditionally wears green! England has roast turkey or goose, served with roast potatoes and other vegetables, followed by Christmas pudding as well as brandy butter, chocolate yule log, Christmas cake and mince pie. America and Canada have apple cider, candy canes, champagne or sparkling apple cider, Christmas cookies, cranberry sauce, eggnog, fruitcake, hot chocolate, marzipan, apple pie, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Not us.
As for Christmas trees- the pine tree and the fir tree are not indigenous and they’re helluva thirsty! Wikipedia says: “The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life. In Roman mosaics from what is today Tunisia, showing the mythic triumphant return from India of the Greek god of wine and male fertility, Dionysus (dubbed by some modern scholars as a life-death-rebirth deity), the god carries a tapering coniferous tree. Medieval legends, nevertheless, tended to concentrate more on the miraculous “flowering” of trees at Christmastime. A branch of flowering Glastonbury thorn is still sent annually for the Queen’s Christmas table in the United Kingdom.”
Stay tuned for part two*

One thought on “My Long Running And Mostly Internal Debate On The Non-Existent Original South African Traditions (Part 1)

  1. We dont have our own traditions cause we aren’t only english white people in our country. We have 11 official languages in our country. And we got here through the settlers and the british that came here years ago – so we brought all those traditions with us. Africa was a traditionless place until the white man came to the shores. Thats how I see it.

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