We South Africans have always done things our way, and Christmas is certainly no exception. Nobody can deny our vibrant, colourful, delicious end energetic style – because when it comes to celebrating, no other nation does it quite like we do.

It’s all in how you say it

Having so many official languages means we have even more ways to say Merry Christmas. For example, in Afrikaans we say ‘Geseënde Kersfees’. In Zulu it’s ‘uKhismisu omuhle’. In Sesotho we say ‘Le be le keresemese e monate’. And in Xhosa it’s ‘Krismesi emnandi’. Wherever you’re from, we’ll always have a way of wishing you a magical festive season.

Outside is where it’s at

You won’t find a white Christmas in South Africa (sorry northern neighbours). Around here we are blessed with long, lazy summer days, and we waste no time in taking advantage of them. On any given day you’ll hear the sounds of laughing children splashing in backyard pools or chilling at the beach with huge slices of juicy watermelon, outside restaurants packed with smiling patrons, and groups of friends enjoying a few cold ones around the braai. We love it. And we’ll take it over snow and jerseys any day.

Decorating meets traditional

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the trees. But we like to style them our way, using locally-made beaded wire ornaments and characters to give them an unmistakably SA feel. You’ll even find expertly crafted wire trees, stars and reindeer at many traffic intersections, studded with brightly coloured glass jewels. It’s a brilliant example of the talent and ingenuity of our local artists.

Feasts fit for kings and queens

While we do enjoy a good roast with potatoes and gravy, sometimes the heat’s a bit too much and we rather opt for a cold lunch, or even a braai on Christmas day. The only rule is there are no rules. As long as it involves good friends and close family, anything goes. Many of us swap the roast potatoes for Zulu steamed yams, called ‘amadumbe’, or delicious Xhosa samp and beans, or ‘umngqusho’, and give the meal a real Mzansi flava.

And who can resist an iconic, mouth-watering braai, or ‘shisanyama’, where succulent boerewors, marinated steaks and lamb chops are the order of the day? Load up a plate with a side of potato salad and some chakalaka and you’re in heaven. Sure, you may have to wear loose-fitting pants to allow for a bit of expansion but trust us, it’s all worth it.

Marvellously moreish desserts

If there’s even a tiny bit of room left after all the irresistible braaivleis, you won’t find many who will say no to Malva Pudding. This typically South African dessert is just perfect when served warm with a hearty dollop of ice cream or custard. If that’s a bit rich for you, try a cool slice of milk tart, or ’melktert’ in Afrikaans, or pop a marshmallow or two on the end of a stick and roast them golden over the braai coals. Whatever you choose, we can all agree that moments like these are best when shared with good mates and family.

Everyone’s always invited

Perhaps it’s because we spend so much time in the wide outdoors, or maybe it’s because we’re just a friendly bunch, the one thing that sets us apart is that there’s always enough for an extra guest or two at this time of the year. The neighbours pop over. A friend brings a couple of extra people with them. It’s all good, because the more the merrier. And the more merrier, the better the Christmas spirit. We’re always there for each other, always ready to welcome a new face and make a new friend. This spirit of ‘ubuntu’ is at the heart of what makes South Africans special. And we wouldn’t change it for the world.

Whether we’re celebrating old traditions, or starting new ones, we South Africans have a lot to be proud of. So go on. Celebrate with passion, soak up the sun, love without limits and let’s show the world how we do Christmas. Mzansi-style.