Christmas in South Africa vs Christmas in London

Christmas in South Africa vs London

Growing up in South Africa, I always remember the festive season as that time of the year when everyone starts winding down from the long year. The country basically comes to a halt. In PE, the summer holiday season would usually start with the “Opening of the Season” event at the beachfront. The Vaalies (back then, Gautengalengers today) would start arriving in their hoards with their camper vans and trailers attached to their cars, packed to the brim with their household essentials. Christmas Day is reminiscent of eating lots of food such as seafood, red meat, salads and trifle while sitting and talking nonsense to family and friends for hours. On Boxing Day, many people would spend the day at the beach. The typical South African Christmas period was all about braais, swimming, lounging around in the sun and lazy hot summer days.

Christmas in South Africa vs London

That’s until I moved to London…

I remember spending my first Christmas with friends. It was cold, dark and wintry. (The sun sets from 4pm.) My first introduction to this Christmas “mad” country was seeing the many houses with their Christmas light displays. It felt like deja-vu, something I only saw in American movies.

Since then, I have grown to love the festive season in the UK. And have probably become as “Christmas mad” as everyone else. I love the many festivities that make it feel so much more Christmassey in the UK. Everywhere you go there is Christmas decór and dazzling Christmas streetlight displays that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or perhaps that could be the mulled wine too… 😉 There are Christmas markets, ice rinks, themed shows, restaurants serving festive menus and Christmas carols whether it’s over the radio or from carol singers. At first, Christmas jumpers seemed a little cheesy but now my wardrobe seems incomplete without one. Christmas Day is spent indoors keeping warm and cozy, sharing it with good friends and eating lots of yummy food.

On Boxing Day, it’s all about the sales, sales, sales. Thinking about it now, it probably does sound a little over the top and a bit of a money making scheme but I do love a truly festive Christmas.

Aside from that, regardless of where I am in the world the most important thing to me is spending the festive season with my loved ones, sharing laughter and joy, and creating memories that I can treasure forever.

This is a collaboration post with Travelstart. Read the Travelstart post about what other bloggers have to say about Christmas in South Africa vs the UK.

If you’re in South Africa and would like to experience the festive season in London, check out Travelstart for their cheap flights to London.



  1. Maria
    21st December 2016 / 8:53 AM

    Awesome post! I hear you about the Christmas jumpers… if someone had told me last year that I would love them this year I would have laughed in their face! Do you ever go back to SA at Xmas time ?

    • whatudidntknow
      21st December 2016 / 8:58 AM

      Hi Maria, thank you! 🙂 Lol, yes it’s funny how one takes a liking for all these things that we would have thought too cheesy before. I guess it’s more the fun of the whole thing than anything else. I have been back for Xmas in SA about 3 or 4 times in the last 9 years. The flights are just a lot more expensive though!

  2. 21st December 2016 / 10:28 AM

    So interesting to read about the different ways Christmas is celebrated in South Africa and the UK. It is one of my favourite times of the year and I just love everything that comes with it 🙂 Lovely post!

    • whatudidntknow
      21st December 2016 / 11:00 AM

      Hi Miriam, thank you! 🙂

  3. 26th May 2017 / 2:34 PM

    Really enjoying your posts, have only discovered your blog today.
    I am currently living in Cape Town and moving with my husband to Cambridge in July 2017. Was so happy to read about your true experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, as most people are either very anit-SA or anti-UK, very few are “realistic”.

    • whatudidntknow
      26th May 2017 / 5:22 PM

      Hi Jacqueline, thank you so much for your lovely comment! Oooh Cambridge will be awesome! I believe it’s a really lovely city to live in. All the best with the move to the UK 😉

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