Although Ray and l were born and raised half a world apart, our traditional Christmas customs are amazingly similar.
With South Africa being in the Southern hemisphere, Christmas falls during mid-summer, so families often braai (grill) the Christmas meal to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors. The Christmas meal varies from traditional roasted turkey, ham, duck, etc. to cold meats, fruits, and salads. There is always plenty to feed the “unaccounted for” guests, which South Africans generously welcome.
My favorite memories are the “crackers” and “pudding”. Our family always served two desserts – Trifle and Christmas Pudding.
Christmas Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table. The contents are a colored crown/hat, a small toy or other trinket, and a joke or riddle or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. The crowns, are usually worn during Christmas dinner.
Christmas Pudding is made of thirteen ingredients, symbolizing Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, and well moistened/preserved with the addition of brandy. It is steamed (not baked) at least a month ahead of time to give it time to “mature”. Just before serving, coins (money) are inserted in the pudding – those finding the coins in their pudding can expect luck. As kids we loved it and we would eat as much as allowed so we could claim the money! Brandy is poured over the pudding and lit so it is flaming when served at the table...it is so festive and delicious.
We continue to pull crackers and enjoy Christmas pudding and Trifle in our new home country, and our granddaughters are now expert Trifle makers!