South African musicians share their fascinating Christmas traditions

Christmas traditions South Africa
Images credit: Indie Does It PR

Christmas is such a special time of year, typically known as the season of giving. Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends and enjoy a big feast with the people we love.

Everyone has their own unique festive traditions which they cherish, so we asked some South African musicians to share their annual plans for the festive season. Secret Santa, gammon, Boney M and family time are the most common denominators.

Ashlinn Gray

Every Christmas, we prioritise our family. It’s normally just my three sisters, my mom and dad and I. We wake up on the morning of the 25th, make coffee and all gather around the Christmas tree to open presents.

We then put together a huge smorgasbord of all of our favourite cheeses, snacks, homemade cookies and chocolates and watch a movie together. We then FaceTime our family in South Africa and wish all our friends a Merry Christmas.

Ashlinn Gray. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

My favourite part about Christmas is the family time. What really makes my heart smile is the Christmas spirit. People are so much more friendly and positive. I also love Christmas lights. There is a road in my complex where every house dresses their trees up with lights. I love the coming together of people in a festive celebration.

Another fun thing my sisters and I do is the R50 Christmas dash. We have a budget of R50 and each have a Secret Santa. We have 30 minutes to rush around a store and find each other the perfect gift. It can be funny, sentimental or exactly what they need. One time I gave my sister a mini deodorant because she always borrowed mine. She didn’t take it too well but I scored major laughing points that year.


The majority of people love the festive season and it is no different for me and my family. During the festive season we have a couple of traditions we usually follow. We start off by setting up the Christmas tree very close to my birthday on 23 November.

A bit closer to Christmas, we go to an annual Christmas party with our family and friends, where we share Christmas gifts before everyone rushes off on holiday. We always make our family recipe of pumpkin fritters and my mom’s Christmas gammon recipe.

Gabrielle. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

On Christmas Eve, we host our own family dinner where we play dominoes and card games with our grandparents until midnight. Christmas morning, we open gifts and head to church to honour Jesus Christ for giving us the celebration.

Christmas for me is the smell of preparing gammon while playing Boney M or Mariah Carey, frying pumpkin fritters, playing board games and laying around with our full bellies. Christmas is family time. This year I will add in playing piano and singing Christmas Carols, I have been practicing jingle bells day and night.

Matt Gardiner

Every Christmas Eve, we spend time together as a family, our whole family. We draw names a month in advance and we have to secretly buy that person a gift.

We always have gammon with sweet mustard and roast chicken with stuffing. Every Christmas Eve, we Skype our family in Australia and all my little cousins get to open their presents from Santa together. For us, Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus and spending time together as a family.

Matt Gardiner. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

Gino Lee

Every December, my parents and I either drive up to meet my brothers in Cape Town and spend some festive time there or they will come to PE to celebrate Christmas here at home.

Either way, the family always tries to be together for Christmas. My mom always cooks Christmas Lunch. The whole house will be filled with the most amazing smell of roast potatoes and gammon.

In terms of music, there’s never been a December where we didn’t bring out the old classic Boney M Christmas album. I remember listening to that mix since I was a kid.

Of course now we just play the Spotify playlist but we still have the physical CD. Our traditions might be conventional but it’s important to keep them and keep a sense of family and togetherness, especially in the age of COVID-19.

Gino Lee. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

Nicholas Joubert

Christmas time is my most favourite time of year. Christmas is more important to me than my own birthday. Typically my mind goes into overdrive with the Christmas fairytale. I’ve enjoyed the magical energy in the air ever since I was a young boy – the fairytale of Santa Claus, and his sleigh and reindeer have always inspired me. 

During the Christmas season, I listen to a lot of Christmas music, binge watch Christmas movies and I visit Christmas stores looking at the new Christmas decorations and ways to style the Christmas tree. A tradition I do not skip is setting up the Christmas tree, and I always do this while listening to Justin Bieber’s Mistletoe album.

During the festive period, I always watch the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with Jim Carrey. I’ve adored that movie ever since it came out.

This year I will be attending various Christmas Carol events and it is my goal to travel and visit Germany or Switzerland over the Christmas period somewhere in the following years to come – I’ve heard it is absolutely magical. 

Nicholas Joubert. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

Lucrecia Rae

Christmas is a time for me and the family to take time away from our busy lives and to make time to honour God, and give thanks to Him for the gift of the life of Jesus. During this time, we as a family love to spend more time in the presence of His Almighty. 

On Christmas, I start my day by going to church to receive a new message, sing His praises and go into prayer to thank God for this day. After church my family always gets together for lunch at my grandmother’s home. Growing up, me and my cousins would always go and sleep over at my granny’s and stay up until midnight to open up our gifts together. Christmas has such amazing memories and each year it renews my spirit and makes me grateful for my relationship with God.

Lucrecia Rae. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

Kiesha Pather

Coming from a relatively small family, Christmas is always a time to get together and celebrate the festive season, as well as appreciate what has happened throughout the year. Although we have enjoyed the universal traditions – such as setting up a tree and receiving gifts – there have been other amazing things my family and I have done to make the season of giving extra special.

With some of the family based in Cape Town, we either take a trip there or they here. Wherever we are, taking a drive around at midnight to admire the Christmas lights has always been a small tradition to start off Christmas day, especially when visiting Cape Town.

Kiesha Pather. Image credit: Indie Does It PR

Christmas is known to be the time of giving, but the one thing I love most is its ability to bring family together. The season, owned by the great Mariah Carey herself, is known to be the most wonderful time of the year.

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