Thank you to Jeanne for posting my blog today. I’m sorry I’m not here to personally wish you all a happy holiday, but I’m incommunicado in the middle of the African bush. Definitely a green Christmas for me. I’m visiting South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana on safari. Today, I’m in Botswana playing (maybe the wrong word choice) with semi-habituated elephants. Wish me luck!
Spending Christmas in Africa makes me think about celebrating the holidays in an unusual way. What is customary in one country is unusual in another. I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions, the more unusual, the better!
In the meantime, here is a little more info about the holidays in Africa, including a special South African recipe.
In Africa, there is not so much the giving of presents, but the giving of presence. Most people cannot afford to buy gifts. Besides, in the middle of the bush, there aren’t many stores. Instead, many Africans celebrate with a special meal, enjoying one of their treasured livestock over an open fire.
Definitely different than Canada, but one thing remains constant across the globe. Africans celebrate Christmas like everyone else in the world—as a celebratory time for family and friends to come together, eat, drink, and rejoice in the fact that they have each other. It’s all about the people in our lives.
In South Africa, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer. Can you say HOT? Snow would last about thirty seconds! So, what do South Africans do today? After a large Christmas lunch, families visit the homes of friends to ask for and receive a "Christmas box" which usually has food inside.
There are eleven languages in South Africa. Here are the five most common ways of saying "Merry Christmas"!
Merry Christmas: English;
Geseënde Kersfees: Afrikaans
Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle: Zulu
Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle: Swazi
Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse: Sotho
Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are happy and well. And keep in mind—Christmas is a time of celebration in Africa—that is, unless you are a goat, a chicken, or a cow!
Recipe for traditional yeast-baked rusk!
This is a traditional dish great for dunking in your tea or coffee early in the morning when you watch the sun rise as the boer trekkers did every morning when they traveled from the Cape to the Transavaal. If the rusks are to be kept for a long time, do not substitute margarine for the butter.
375g (1-3/4 c) butter
500g (2-1/4 c.) sugar
2 extra large eggs
1.5kg (3 lb, 4 oz) self-raising flour
30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
500ml (2 cups) buttermilk or plain drinking yogurt
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Cream the butter and sugar together very well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add this to the creamed mixture, using a fork to mix. Add the buttermilk or yogurt, using a little milk to rinse out the carton.
Mix well with a fork and then knead lightly. Pack lightly rolled, golf ball sized buns of the dough into the greased bread pans close together, and bake for 45-55 minutes. Place the pans in the middle of the oven, with a sheet of brown paper on the top shelf to protect the buns from becoming browned too quickly.
Remove the paper after the buns are well risen and cooked through, to brown the tops. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Turn out the buns on to cake racks, cool them and separate them, using 2 forks. Pack them on wire racks or on cooled oven racks—air must circulate. Place them in the cool oven, leaving the door ajar, for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to dry out. If no buttermilk or yogurt is available, use fresh milk curdled with lemon juice or white vinegar.