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Posted on: Thursday, 26 November 2009
Let the Festivities Begin

Festive Season Events

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It is almost that time of the year, holiday time for most, family time for many and the shopping centres have Christmas music on repeat. In the words of one of those songs, for me “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. This is a time for celebration and enjoying time with those people who are important to you. That’s right folks, Christmas and New Year are just around the corner, it’s time to bring out the Christmas decorations and make your plans to see in the New Year. And we’re here to highlight a few of the things happening around the country.

With the countdown to Christmas beginning why not get into the Christmas spirit by attending one of the many carol concerts around the country? You will find yourself singing to some of the most well known Christmas carols such as:

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.

The Carols by Candlelight are part of the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts and take place from 17-20 December. On 17 December entry is R40 for adults and R20 for children and the rest of the evenings it is R50 for adults and R30 for children. Your entry fee includes a candle and a song-sheet. Tickets for this event can be purchased directly from Kirstenbosch on the day of the event or from one of the many Pick ‘n Pay stores in Cape Town.

If you are in Gauteng then the Carols on the Square on 12 December 2009 at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton is a custom every year. At this event you can embrace the true spirit of Christmas and you can contribute to those who are in need. There are two charities that benefit from this year’s carols, The Alexandra Chamber of Commerce and the Tomorrow Trust. There will be unique hand crafted, beaded Aids ribbons on sale on the night. The solo artists of the night include operatic tenors  Siyabonga Maqungo and Zuko Cutu, Craig Urbani and Judith Sephuma. The event starts at 18h00.

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air.

Although South Africa will not be frosty and white on Christmas day, as many of the Christmas carols we sing suggest, most South African families celebrate Christmas with European traditions, such as displaying Christmas decorations and trees, exchanging gifts and even leaving biscuits and milk for Father Christmas (Santa Claus) and in many households it is a tradition to have a large family lunch on the 25th.

Cape Town Minstrel CarnivalCape Town Minstrel Carnival, photo by gsdali on Flickr.com (creative commons licence)

Saturday 26 December is also a public holiday here as we celebrate the Day of Goodwill and this is a day where we can continue in the spirit of Christmas to all of the people in the country and once again many families throughout the country use this opportunity to spend time together.

And while the days following Christmas often pass by quite quickly we cannot forget that we need to see in the New Year on Thursday 31 December 2009. In Nieu-Bethesda in the Eastern Cape you can join the parade at the New Years Festival of Lights by assembling at 20h00 at the Bethesda Arts Centre. For more information you can telephone +27 (0)49 8411 729.

And when the clock has struck midnight on this day and you have welcomed in the new year, perhaps with your own rendition of Auld Lang Syne you might be wondering how you can spend the first days of the new year. If you are in Still Bay up the Garden Route you can be a part of the Hessequa Beach Festival from 1-4 January 2010 with a number of fun and action-filled activities. Take part in the beach volley ball, flag sprinting or even the beach style Iron Man competition. A number of competitions and promotions will be happening at this festival and for more information you can telephone Werner Rall on +27 (0)44 874-2015.

If you are in Cape Town then you definitely should make you way into the centre of town for the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival – most certainly a tradition in the Cape. It takes place every year on the first day of the new year (1 January) and it is a time when Cape Town comes alive with the “Kaapse klopse” as they are fondly known. I guarantee you it is something unique and you won’t find something quite like it anywhere else.

“Kaapse klopse” or “Coon carnival” (its more common name – although this isn’t a particularly politically correct term in the ‘new South Africa’) is a thousands of musicians, dancers, singers as well as tailors connected to them – their costumes play a vital role in the carnival – gather together with their white painted faces to parade and march the streets. Following this is a series of dance, singing and costume competitions. With its origins stretching as far back as the 19th century you can understand why this is such a highlight on the Cape Town calendar.

Whatever you do this festive season make sure you celebrate life and try to remember those around you who are less fortunate.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

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