Krismis in Africa or Deutschland?
(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).
I was born to Germans, raised partly in Namibia but mostly in South Africa and nine years ago, I left SA and moved to Germany. Now that Christmas is here – the question is – where is better – in South Africa or in Germany?
As kids – Christmas in Africa usually meant a green plastic tree and tons of presents – the shopping malls blared Boney M’s evergreen songs and we’d greet the 24th – unlike our contemporaries who had to wait an extra 12 hours to unpack their presents, in shorts and t-shirts and often have a braai (barbeque) in the garden with the adults enjoying cold Lions (not the animals – the beers!).
When I got older, my own family happily accepted the German practice of opening the presents earlier than the rest of the world and we’d pay tribute to the German way of dining – by buying expensive continental cheeses, exotic sliced meats for rolls and gherkins and much cool drink.
Visiting the grandparents in Germany as a child, meant it was often snowed-under, a real tree for the presents to be stocked under and we had to wear wooly hats, scarves and boots while the adults enjoyed goose and duck with the trimmings and Glühwein.
My grandmother would go out of her way for Christmas in her small town – and would decorate the huge fir tree in bright decorations and couple presents of clothing with cash hastily stuffed into Christmas cards. The older folk would drink rare liquors and after the gifts, we’d stay up for a few hours before going to bed, happy in the knowledge we’d been given many presents and were loved.
Which is better? Well, I believe in the adage – home is where the heart is and if you are surrounded by people you love and the spirit of Christmas is in your heart – not consumerism but wanting the other to be happy and enjoy their company – then Christmas works wherever you are in the world.
I am spending the 24th and the 25th in Krefeld, NRW, Germany and the forecast is not for snow but the weather is certainly chilly with a wind howling outside. We have the hot chocolate with cream ready and the designated chef will make roast turkey as we used to South Africa – with potatoes, cauliflower, stuffing, a hearty gravy and trifle. It is the best of both worlds – the food that we celebrate with in Africa but made here in Germany.
A Christmas in South Africa is magical – you have the possibility to have it in Cape Town and overlook the Atlantic or in Durban with a hot, spicy curry next to the Indian Ocean or up in Johannesburg in a trendy restaurant, surrounded by friends and knowing that most people are away elsewhere on holiday. Just remember the spirit of Christmas and both venues are wonderful.