Monai Church, Bethlehem, South Africa

Strathmore Road Methodist Church's picture

Some people here know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, but not everybody is aware what it is about. It is often seen as just another public holiday and there is a lot of drinking. The wealthy people will buy ‘that tree’ and the gifts but only for their close family. It is tradition to buy the children a new outfit that they can wear on Christmas. It can be a painful day because many people cannot afford to buy clothes for our children, and this can be a real source of shame, so we hide in the house.

There is not a special meal for Christmas (like Turkey) but people make biscuits or cake and often spend the day visiting one another and sharing their treats that they have made. The wealthier people may slaughter a sheep to celebrate.

Churches do meet on Christmas morning and sometimes do a sketch to remember Jesus birth, though not many people are there on Christmas morning.

This year for Shiela has been growing as many vegetables as she can and is hosting a Christmas party for the children who the church serves. With Covid-19 lockdown having had such an effect on the economy, people will be poorer this Christmas than they have been before, so the church wants to bless the children with a party meal to remember.

She says for her “Christmas is about giving, if we can’t afford to give gifts that we buy we can still give our time and our love”

Christmas falls in Summer in South Africa so people will often spend most of the day outside, maybe having a bbq or some ‘treats’ outside.