The Story of an African Christmas

It is a little known fact that long ago, back when they first realised that the world was big (and round), the Santas of the world united to ensure that no child would be left without joy during the festive season. That’s right: Santa, or “Father Christmas”, as we called him growing up, is in fact, many Santas; and the one that flies around our part of the African continent, does not drive a sleigh. Perhaps he flies a donkey-cart, a 4×4, or a tractor (I don’t know exactly – few have ever seen him)! If he does use animals for his extraordinary trip, it might be antelope – probably springbuck – because the Northern reindeer surely would not survive our climate.

“African Santa” does not wear a fluffy red coat – he tried that once, got terrible heatstroke, and swore never to emulate North Pole Santa again. 

As stores began to set out their Christmas decorations, I searched for something that rang true to an African Christmas. Having once longed for a “white Christmas”, I have since learned that snow is only fun until it becomes slush. I’ll take sand between my toes any day. I don’t want a snowman on my wrapping paper – I want a sand-man, with sea-urchin shells for eyes, and a driftwood nose. (It could be a carrot, but who brings a carrot to the beach?)

I have nothing against pine trees (some of my best Christmases had pine trees), but I would much rather have an imitation baobab decorating my living room this season. Scrap the magnified snowflakes while we’re at it, and give me ornaments that resemble starfish instead. 

Here and there, a store produces a quirky mug or an ornament with a Santa in board shorts, or atop a zebra, but I want MORE. Give me Ugly Christmas Boardies, because it is way too hot for an Ugly Christmas Jumper, and please put a sunhat on Santa’s head, because that beanie with the tassel will not protect his face from the summer sun. 

We decorate for Christmas in search of the joy we felt as children. I live for those whiffs of sea, sunscreen, and braai meat, which will always remain synonymous with Christmas to me. I want to celebrate this time, not hankering for some cold northern country, but enjoying Ke Dezemba in this one. 

(Just leave my solar fairy lights alone though, thanks.)

P.S: Artwork in this post were generated via this AI art generator.

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