To all the people who have been following our owls this year....
May we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful, prosperous 2011. For those who don't celebrate Christmas, may we wish you Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year ahead.
People have asked me what it's like to celebrate the festive season in a hot climate, so this is how it's done 'South African style'. December is a time for shorts, t-shirts, summer dressed, and sandals (not Teeny's sandal, I promise!). Temperatures reach 30 degrees centigrade and higher. The sun shines brightly and it is too warm to go outside without a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
South Africans love the outdoors so our festive season is spent with friends and family in the fresh air. Some people like to swim in the sea (the coastal areas get very crowded this time of year). It's always fun to get dumped by a wave and end up with sand in your swimsuit (or as we call it here, a swimming costume).
For those people inland, there are swimming pools and even dams to keep cool. Roads are quieter in Johannesburg, which is great for those who don't migrate to the coast for the holidays. In December in Johannesburg, you can finally travel a 20km journey in 15 minutes by car (normally takes 40-plus minutes in normal traffic).
Christmas is normally celebrated on Christmas Day, unless your family is like mine with a European influence, and then we celebrate on Christmas Eve. Traditional Christmas food includes turkey with all the trimmings, gammon, mince pies, Christmas cake etc.
Because of our hot climate, sometimes it is hard to eat a big, hot plate of food at Christmas time. More people are opting for salads or tucking into big pieces of watermelon.
For those who don't celebrate Christmas, December is a wonderful time to relax and be with family and friends. Most annual leave is taken during December, and schools are out for 6 weeks over this time.
Throughout the country, there is a definite 'year-end-wind-down' feeling, and businesses close or cut back on the hours during the day.
For sporting fans, December marks our cricket test series over Christmas and New Year with International teams coming out. This year, we have the Indian cricket team out.
Hope this gives you an idea of how we will be celebrating the festive season.
Merry Christmas everyone and keep safe and happy!