Ever since I was a child the idea of a White Christmas had fascinated me. Not because of the many countless holiday songs that refer to this particular kind of meteorological phenomenon, but because the idea of snow on Christmas is so foreign to me.
You see, living in the Southern Hemisphere in a country called South Africa, in a town called Durban we have to drive three hours to see snow. This only happens maybe once a year during June or July when our winter holidays take place.
The snow is on the mountains and you might be lucky to play in it or to build a snowman for a picture or two. (At least I can relate to those songs!) The odd snow angel is also a remarkable remembrance. But despite this, the idea of snow during Christmas in the town where we live – to walk in it, to drive in it, to make eggnog and sit next to the fire is completely bonkers!
Just yesterday I went into the clothing store of a prominent multinational Swedish clothing-retail company. And what do you know – there in the men’s section I see standing out, like a sore finger a batch of Christmas sweaters. It was only, one small rail but this reminded me how different our concept of Christmas is to the Northern Hemisphere narrative of Christmas. A few of them were missing, so it does sell but more as a novelty item. You sure as heck won’t be wearing your sweater on Christmas eve when you are fighting the sub-tropical South African heat.
Let it snow, let it snow?
The idea of a White Christmas has long been promoted in largely Euro-centric and American narratives. The traditional songs we sing are all about this worldview and the idea of snow is all over the Christmas narrative. We have a few more generic holiday songs which are more representative but I have yet to find a Christmas song that is just about Africa or Christmas in summer. Maybe I’ve missed something? The inverse is also true. It must be hard for anyone reading this that only knows a White Christmas to imagine it as a summer holiday.
My Christmas reference
We South Africans also love to go even further north to our neighboring African countries, such as Mozambique. This popular holiday destination offers beach holidays that are out of this world. Being closer to the equator and very rural the idea of Christmas is even more foreign here. You spend your days next to a pool, swimming in the sea or lazing around various bars, all without a touch of snow in sight. The greatest commodity here is ice, which sells at a premium and is literally regarded as gold. The electricity supply during this period is also very unreliable so ice trucks often have to cart a fresh daily supply over the border from South Africa to keep the tourists lubricated.
Instead of eggnog as the favourite holiday drink it is R&R. This is a “Rum and Raspberry* which is rum and raspberry flavoured cola. The dark rum called Tipo Tinto is distilled locally and very strong! It is also very cheap. The raspberry cola which is used as mix is more expensive than the rum. The rum to cola ratio is also skewed towards the rum. You might have half a glass of rum and the rest cola. This makes for interesting experiences which you might or might now remember.
Come to think of it -this might be the only thing you will complain about during your December holidays in South Africa. Only that and not seeing any snow.
P.S. This content is original and published on Steemit but didn’t get enough attention so reposting it here.