Globally Christmas traditions are well documented but what do we do in Botswana? Our fabulous bloggers have given us a series of short stories describing what their festive celebrations look like for them.
Our Christmas Traditions And Love Of Food
Written by Tebogo Matenge – Mother of 3 boys and founder of the eatery Sgotti.
In my family Christmas has always been about food and family. When I was younger, Christmas time meant going to the village, meeting extended family and the slaughtering of the beast that would fuel the festivities! Most families in Botswana had the same tradition, the city would be a ghost town around then.
Now, more often than not we stay in the city, but the food and festivities have not changed. Each year a different family member hosts the entire family for Christmas lunch. We wake up at the crack of dawn to get the food ready, marinade meat, set up jumping castles and slides for the kids. The drinks also need to be chilled.
From mid morning, family members start trickling in, most bringing more drinks and all bearing gifts for the children. We don’t exchange gifts for the adults, but instead we buy and wrap gifts for the kids, to be opened during the day. There are plenty of snacks all around and the cold beverages are already flowing.
I would have often started preparing the one exotic dish of the day. When I was 12 years old, the exotic dish I did was Chicken Briyani, picked from my mothers many recipe books. Now more often than not, I toy with recipes from around the world, fusing them with our tamer local tastes.
The Seswaa (in our culture no celebration is complete without Seswaa) will already be bubbling away on the open fire behind the house. It’s seasoned perfectly by one of my male relatives, ready to be pounded once cooked well enough. Lunch is never really lunch, but often eaten around 4pm, and the eating carrying on to the late hours. A wide array of meats, salads, starches is laid out and the children are served first to get that out of the way. Traditionally the only dessert served is chilled Watermelon, straight from my dad’s farm. These days we buy plenty of Ice cream for the kids to enjoy too.
What I love most about our Christmas tradition is that it brings the whole family together! No matter where in the world they are, everyone makes an effort to come home at Christmas. Long lost cousins resurface. Aunts and uncles regale us with stories from their youth and more often than not, a new relative is discovered in the midst of all the festivities!
An Ever Changing Christmas
Written By Genevieve Eatametse – She’s rocking it as a single mum to her amazing 4 year old daughter Naimh
It’s the 24th of December and all our decorations are up. My sisters and I are have just finished setting up for Santa and we say our “wishes” for the last time before we go to bed. None of us can contain our excitement because in a couple of hours, we’ll be waking up to our presents from Santa under the Christmas tree.
This is how we spent our Christmas growing up. We devotedly believed in Santa Claus. This shaped our behavior throughout the year because if we were bad, we didn’t get any presents. During the festive season, we would decorate our house in Christmas lights. My mother would hang tinsel on the Christmas tree strand by strand. She would make sure that every room in the house had a touch of Christmas. Down to the Santa-themed rug and hand towels in the bathroom!
Christmas morning we’d wake up to our presents then spend most of the day playing with our new toys. Then later on, we’d enjoy the wonderful meal my mother always prepared on Christmas. Oven baked chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, cucumbers in sour cream and coloured rice. I always wanted to drink the gravy right out of the boat. For dessert we always had custard and jelly trifle with the king-sized box of Choice Assorted biscuits.
Growing up, I loved Christmas carols. Whenever we visited my grandmother, I would make my sisters memorise all my favourite carols and we would then perform for her. We could watch television for as long as we wanted at my grandmother’s place. We would binge watch all the Christmas movies they were showing on that day. From Home Alone to Eloise At The Plaza. Christmas movies were and are still my absolute favourite.
Once we grew up and became adults, we never really kept down our childhood Christmas traditions. Everybody is either visiting friends or doing whatever they want. What with the long distances from our jobs and all that, we rarely have time to come together as we used to as kids.
I’ve decided to make my own traditions for my daughter. On Christmas day we go to the mall and we take pictures with Santa Clause. We go to a caroling events where we watch school kids perform various Christmas carols. Then we end the day with a light dinner at a local restaurant then watch Christmas movies until we fall asleep.
Christmas is a very special time for me. It’s one I cherish. I think we should all try to make it as memorable as we can, especially for the little kids. Have a merry Christmas and a joyous new year and remember to always be good if you want Santa to pay you a visit.