How Do You Say Merry Christmas in South Africa: 11 Languages

spellboundtravels how do you say merry christmas in south africa

After spending 6 months (and one Christmas) in South Africa, I’ve learned a lot about the different African languages and official languages that are spoken. When it comes to Christmas day, it’s fascinating to learn how different cultures and countries celebrate this special occasion. In South Africa, a nation known for its rich cultural diversity and stunning landscapes, Christmas is a time of great festivities. So, how do you say Merry Christmas in South Africa?

Join me on this journey through the Southern Hemisphere as we explore the unique ways South Africans spend their most celebrated holiday!

Merry Christmas in South Africa: A Multilingual Melting Pot

South Africa, with its eleven official languages, offers a beautiful tapestry of ways to wish someone a Merry Christmas. Africa is not just a continent of breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultures but also a treasure trove of languages. With over 2,000 languages spoken across the continent, Africa is a linguistic mosaic like no other. 

Many African countries have multiple official languages, reflecting the multitude of cultures within their borders. These languages often intertwine, making the holiday season even more memorable. 

In South Africa, for instance, you’ll hear festive greetings in languages such as Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana, among others. Each language adds its own unique flair to the Christmas celebrations. 

Whether you’re greeted with “Joyeux Noël” in the French-speaking communities, “Feliz Navidad” by those influenced by Spanish traditions, or the warm and welcoming “Kuwa na Krismasi Njema” in Swahili, you’ll hear a variety of languages echoing through the air. South Africans celebrate in their own languages and it’s this diversity that makes Christmas in South Africa, truly special!

Here’s how you say Merry Christmas in South Africa in each language: 

  • Afrikaans (South Africa, Namibia) – “Geseënde Kersfees”
  • English – “Merry Christmas” 
  • Zulu (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Eswatini) – “Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle” 
  • Xhosa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho) – “E ku Odun”
  • Tswana/Setswana (Botswana, South Africa) – “E Keresimesi Oma” or “Masego a Keresemose”
  • Ndebele (Zimbabwe, South Africa) – Izilokotho Ezihle Zamaholdeni 
  • Sesotho (Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe) – “Keresemese e monate”
  • Sepedi (South Africa) – “Mahlogonolo a Keresemose”
  • SiSwati (Eswatini, South Africa) – “Khisimusi lomuhle”
  • Tshivenda (South Africa, Zimbabwe) – “D’uvha la mabebo a Murena l’avhudi”
  • Xitsonga (South Africa, Zimbabaw, Mozambique) – “A ku ve Khisimusi lerinene”

The diversity of languages and cultures in South Africa makes for a truly unique and joyous Christmas time. 

African Traditions with a Twist

South Africans have their own way of embracing the festive season, despite the summer heat in December. The warm weather doesn’t deter them from decorating Christmas trees with tinsel, lights and ornaments or from enjoying traditional Christmas dinners featuring roast beef, mince pies and plum pudding. 

Families gather together, exchange gifts and create their own version of nativity scenes, keeping the essence of the holiday alive in their own special way. The warm climate lends itself to outdoor festivities, with families often opting for barbeques, or as they call it, an “African Barbeque” or “braai” (most commonly). 

While Santa Claus is a familiar figure, South Afrians also have their own version of “Father Christmas”. He makes an appearance at malls, schools and community events, bringing joy to children across the country. 

From Cape Town to Kruger National Park 

Whether you find yourself in the bustling city of Cape Town, the stunning landscapes of Kruger National Park, or anywhere in between, South Africans come together to celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm. Churches hold special Christmas Eve services and Christmas songs fill the air, creating a magical atmosphere that transcends cultural boundaries. 

African Christmas Traditions

While South Africa has its own unique Christmas customs, other African countries like Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic also have their distinctive ways of celebrating the holiday. 

From Feliz Navidad in Equatorial Guinea to E Hu Iye’ Dun in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you’ll find a diverse array of traditions and greetings across the African continent. 

A Global Celebration 

Christmas is a time when people all over the world come together to celebrate love, joy and togetherness. Whether you’re in South Africa, the United States, Hong Kong, the Middle East or San Marino, the holiday season unites us all in the spirit of giving, sharing and creating precious memories with family and friends. 

New Years in South Africa 

​If you’re planning on spending Christmas and enjoying a happy new year in South Africa, I’d highly recommend spending your time at the beach! 

Keep in mind that New Years is a public holiday so during the Christmas season, beaches might be busier than usual. However, don’t let that stop you from visiting some of the best beaches in Cape Town! 

Best Things to do in South Africa

South Africa is an insane destination over Christmas and one I’d highly recommend visiting. To make the most of your time there over the holidays, here are some activities you should add to your South Africa list!

  • Robben Island and Township Tour – Understand the history of Cape Town and understand how many people live in townships around South Africa.
  • Bloukrans Bungy – Ready for an adrenaline rush? Jump from the world’s tallest bridge bungee!
  • Stellenbosch Wine Tour – Visit 3 wine estates and taste 15 different wines along the way.
  • The Best of Cape Town – Explore Cape Town’s colourful neighbourhood, visit the penguins nearby, see the top of Table Mountain & more!
  • All Day Safari – Take a trip to Addo Elephant National Park and have a chance to see all of the ‘big 5’ while you’re there.
  • Whale Watching – Head to Hermanus (known as the whale watching capital of the world) for an experience of a lifetime.

​Here are a few other blogs you might find helpful next time you find yourself in South Africa:

Merry Christmas!

South Africa, with its rich tapestry of languages, cultures and traditions, offers a unique and heartwarming way to celebrate Christmas. From the warm summer weather to the multilingual greetings, the holiday season in South Africa is a special time that brings people closer together. So, as we approach this festive season, remember that no matter where you are in the world, or the different ways the message of “Merry Christmas” is said because it carries the same warm and joyful sentiment! 

I’ll be back shortly with a new blog but in the meantime, you can follow my adventures as a full-time traveller and digital nomad on InstagramTikTok and YouTube! 


Amy xx 

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