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Is your family abroad this Christmas? Here is how to celebrate with them

Dec 6, 2021

With the Christmas season coming closer, one finds that everything is slower in South Africa. The schools are closing, the last jacarandas were washed out of the streets of Pretoria with thunderstorms, and the heat of a real Summer Christmas has already hit. In the shopping malls, Christmas carols have been playing since the first week of November. It is no surprise that the holiday season will soon be arriving.

While the beginning of December is a joyful time during which we look forward to a sea or Bushveld holiday and the little ones’ wishing lists for Christmas, this time of the year also includes deep longing and nostalgia. With Christmas, we always think of the cousins, brothers and sisters who celebrate on their own on the other side of the world. It is during this time that we recall family meals on Christmas Eve, unwrapping gifts together and even the cheap crackers revealing a pen or key holder with a bang.

Here are a few ways to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones living far away when the loss gets too bad.

Take full advantage of technology if your family live overseas

Social media can make the distance much shorter. Create a WhatsApp group for your family and share recipes, photos and conversations. Enjoy the holiday season together on Facebook or use a hashtag and share in each other’s joys on Instagram.

With a little planning to coordinate time zones, you and your family can visit face-to-face on Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts. You can even sit down together for the Christmas dinner; cook your family’s favourite dishes and enjoy each other’s company while you eat. Or try the following ideas:

  • Gather around the Christmas tree and open presents.
  • Compile a playlist, share it with the family and listen to it throughout the day.

Another idea to feel closer to your overseas family is to invite everyone to take part in a photo challenge. Make a list of Christmas snaps that each family member can take on Christmas Day and share them.

Share your traditions with new friends

Sharing something truly South African or a tradition or recipe unique to your family with new friends will also help reduce the distance between you and your family. Have a real South African Christmas dinner, watch a Leon Schuster movie and tell stories about your family’s Christmas traditions. This way, you create a new tradition for your friends and you feel more at home abroad.

Involve your family in your Christmas abroad. Ever wanted to learn how to make your grandmother’s delicious potato salad? Ask her to demonstrate it to you and your new friends on Zoom or Skype. Not only do you share your traditions with your new friends, but you also spend time with your family.

Christmas time is a difficult time of year when everyone is far away, but thanks to technology, memories and traditions, the continents are getting closer to each other – one potato salad or phone call at a time.

How are you going to keep in touch with your family abroad? Please let us know by sending an email to

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