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The History of Boxing Day: South African Day of Goodwill

Similar to Black Friday in the United States, Boxing Day, which is held on the day after Christmas, is one of the most popular shopping days in Canada and in other parts of the world.

It’s a day where deal seekers are out en masse, looking to take advantage of huge sales. It’s a day where millions of Canadians get up early, it’s almost impossible to get a parking spot at your local mall, and there are line ups to get into stores – all in hopes of getting a smoking deal on a TV, buy that gift they didn’t get for Christmas, or to cash in their gift cards. Similar to Black Friday, online sales are increasingly becoming a popular way to shop on Boxing Day. In fact, some retailers are starting Boxing Day sales the week before Christmas! However, the Boxing Day we have come to know today is very different from its origins. The following takes a look at the history of Boxing Day.

Why "Boxing Day"?

While the exact origin of the name is not entirely clear, it’s believed to refer to the Christmas Boxes that were given to servants, tradesmen, and the poor by employers and the wealthy on the day after Christmas. Other interpretations of the name date back the Middle Ages and late Roman/early Christian era, where boxes were placed in areas of worship to collect donations for the poor and to collect special offers for the Feast of Saint Stephen. 

“The best clue to Boxing Day's origins can be found in the song ‘Good King Wenceslas.’ According to the Christmas carol, Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the king gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door.”

Modern Boxing Day

Boxing Day has been a national holiday in England, Canada, Ireland and Wales since 1871. While it used to be a day of charity, it is far from it today. In addition to it being a popular shopping day, today it has also become known as a day of sport. In England, it’s known for annual fox hunts and football, while in Canada it is known for the World Junior Hockey Tournament.

Is Boxing Day celebrated in other countries?

Outside of Canada and the UK, Boxing Day is commonly celebrated in many other commonwealth countries, each with a unique spin on how they celebrate the day:
  • Australia: The day is a federal holiday. However, in South Australia, the day is referred to as Procrastination Day.
  • Bahamas: The day is celebrated with a street parade and festival called Junkanoo.
  • New Zealand: The day is celebrated the same as in Canada.
  • South Africa: Known as the Day of Goodwill, it is a public holiday that most people spend at the beach.

Boxing Day is not formally celebrated in the United States. It is a public holiday in a number of southern states, but it’s widely referred to as Day after Christmas Day.

Watch for our Boxing Day Specials - up to 70% off selected items!

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Get To Know Africa Series: The Unbelievable Beauty of Cape Floristic

About 25 miles south of the bustling city of Cape Town, tucked near the southern tip of South Africa, is one of the most gorgeous and unique displays of plant life in the world.

The Cape Floristic Region is one of just six designated floral kingdoms worldwide. Africa is proudly home to 129 World Heritage sites, spread over 37 African countries. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes eight nature reserves and wilderness areas, including Table Mountain National Park.

The vast diversity of flowering plant species in the region is staggering. The area represents 20% of Africa’s flora. There are 9,000 plant species crammed into the roughly 80,000 square kilometers that make up the region. And of these, an astounding 6,200 (69%) are found nowhere else in the world.

If you’re planning a visit, be sure to go in the spring—August to mid-October— when you’ll be greeted with an explosion of colorful flowers blanketing the area.

The Plants - 15 million years ago this area was covered by lush rain forest, but today trees are rare. Instead, vegetation on the Cape is largely made up of fynbos—a shrubland mainly comprised of hard-leafed evergreen, and fire-prone shrubs. The air is dry and all plants must survive the rocky or sandy, nutrient-poor soils. Good drainage is a must for the plants on the Cape. The most recognized plant species in the region are the proteas. These showy shrubs have large flower heads in a variety of colors. Earth Rangers has created a lovely video gallery of flowers indigenous to South Africa. Definitely worth a look - so beautiful!


Renewal from the Ashes - Periodic fires are essential to the ecosystem process on the Cape. Rather than being destructive, many plants depend on an occasional burning of their habitat. Ideally the vegetation needs to burn about every 15 years, for new growth to occur. Proteas are specially adapted to survive wildfires—their thick underground stems contain dormant buds that produce new growth after a fire. The Cape Orchids are also dependent on fire to thrive. Most are dormant for long periods, but after a fire they may spring into glorious bloom.

Don’t Forget the Animals - Flashy flowers may steal the show, but there are also many distinct animals—some of which are only found in this tiny region. You can find 320 different species of birds in the area, with six being endemic. The cape sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird, protea canary and cape siskin all call this small corner home.

There are 90 species of mammals living in the area. Perhaps the most impressive is the bontebok—a graceful antelope that was nearly extinct in the mid-1800’s. But thanks to some dedicated conservationists, it now numbers about 2,000.

Reptile diversity is also pretty high, with around 100 species. There are five species of tortoise found almost exclusively within the Cape Floristic Region, including the geometric tortoise, which is one of the rarest in the world. There are only about 2,000-3,000 left on the planet.

You can also find 230 species of butterflies fluttering through the region, which must be quite a site when the area is in bloom. You will learn about the incredibly diversity of plants and animals in the Cape Floristic area, as well as the challenges facing the health of the flora and fauna of the Western Cape.

"Home to 7000 unique plant species, South Africa's Cape Floristic Region boasts the richest flora biodiversity in the world. But fires, agriculture, poaching, illegal felling and expanding urbanization are threatening this unrivaled stretch of earth." Source: Global Ideas

Outside Impact on the Area - Although the Cape Floristic Region is protected land, there are still threats to its neighboring areas. Because of its close proximity to the city of Cape Town, there’s the ever-present danger of urban encroachment. In addition, the prime weather has also led to an expansion of agricultural land for vineyards. But the greatest threat to the region is invasive alien plant species. These plants have already invaded about 70% of the mountain and lowland fynbos. If gone unchecked this incursion will be devastating to the area.

These beautiful, soft scarves are all handmade in the small country of Swaziland by talented artisans using specially developed dyes. A wide variety of materials, colours and styles are available. 

Looking to echo the vibrant colors of the Cape flowers in your wardrobe?

Shop Organic Scarves, Shawls
In addition, to producing eye-catching scarves, Tsandza provides local employment in an impoverished area, and supports community projects, such as providing clean drinking water and helping out local schools. So, you can feel doubly good about your purchase. 


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A Taste of Africa: Peri Peri African Chicken - A Perfect Summer Dish

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

Spelled "peri peri" in Africa, Piri piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin. Peri Peri African Chicken is popular in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. We say you can't go wrong with this combination of ingredients! Yum Yum, indeed.

You can make a big batch of the sauce and store it in the fridge for future use. We always triple our batch and enjoy this delicious flavouring for many meals. Although we particularly enjoy this family recipe, remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish. An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo Cookbook. My East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes. We found a good basic recipe at Allrecipes.com and tweaked it a bit to reflect the way we make our Peri Peri. We make it so often we do everything automatically, without thinking about how much of this or how much of that. Don't hesitate to experiment. A little more this, a little less that - is a great way to express your unique culinary talents and make things taste just the way you like them.


  • 1/4 cup of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of hot chili powder
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh ginger (we use a little more - probably 2 teaspoons)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (AllRecipes.com calls for 3 cloves but we like more)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 to 6 bone-in chicken breasts (or a similar quantity of chicken thighs)

We like our peri peri sauce quite spicy, so I add a little Sriracha to the mix. You can also add some hot chili pepper flakes. Simply combine all the ingredients (except chicken) in a bowl. We like to let it sit for at least an hour so the flavours meld. Rub or brush the chicken with the peri peri sauce. Place your chicken in a bowl, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to marinate. We often marinate ours for at least 6 hours for maximum flavour. It's up to you! Reserve the leftover peri peri sauce in the fridge. It is delicious "on the side" to dip your chicken in as you eat. Peri Peri Chicken has roots in both Africa and Portugal. The dish was created in Angola and Mozambique when Portuguese settlers arrived with chile peppers (known as piri-piri in Swahili).


  1. When you're read, just heat up your grill (medium is good for chicken - not too hot or it will burn quickly).
  2. Cook your chicken as you usually would, turning occasionally. Make sure the juices run clear before taking off the grill for service.

A little tip for you. In the middle of winter (or if we just don't feel like firing up the BBQ), we use a FlavourWave convection oven to make our Peri Peri Chicken. We highly recommend this device. They are so handy, we've got FlavourWaves at home and at our cottage. They are inexpensive and save you having to heat up your kitchen with the oven on.


We like our Peri Peri Chicken with a variety of sides. Rice, chunky spicy oven roasted potatoes, salad - whatever your heart desires.

Enjoy! And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make.

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Halloween in South Africa: Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls, Oh My!

Halloween is one of the most fun and most exciting times of the year for children, and, in recent years, it has increased in popularity with adults as well. While it is perhaps most popular in the United States, Canada and the Western World, traditions and celebrations vary from country to country. Even though it may not be as popular as in other countries, Halloween is celebrated in South Africa! 

It has only been in the past few years that it has caught on, but Halloween continues to gain momentum as more and more parties and participants are showing up each year. It’s just another reason to have fun and throw a party, right?

About Halloween in South Africa

Primarily viewed as an American tradition by local residents, Halloween in South Africa is very similar to the way we celebrate it here in North America. It is observed each year on October 31st as a non-secular holiday celebrated with candy and costumes. While the costumes may take on a more South African flair and include local cultural symbolism for the region, you will still see your fair share of ghouls, goblins and vampires! Some of the most popular Halloween costumes in South Africa include:
  • Skeletons
  • Your favorite board game brought to life
  • Old-school cartoon characters
  • Vampires
Since the tradition is relatively new in the area, people have gravitated toward more traditional costume options. Over time, undoubtedly people will get more creative with their costume ideas and look for new ways to impress their friends on Halloween. Cape Town is full of Halloween events that you are familiar with:
  • Haunted houses
  • Zombie walks
  • Trick or treating
  • Horror film festivals
  • Halloween parties
  • Mystery murder dinners

While you would assume there would be some local traditions and rituals, Halloween in South Africa is actually a direct replica of what we have experienced for years.

Why Is Halloween Catching On?

The obvious reason why Halloween is catching on in South Africa is because it’s an excuse to dress up and have fun. It also offers local companies countless business opportunities to cash in on a lucrative holiday. Halloween is a $6 billion industry each year in the U.S. alone! Even though Halloween originated in Ireland with the Celts, symbolizing the end of the summer, it was embraced by the U.S. and taken to an entirely new level of popularity. This popularity of Halloween culture, which has been on display for years in Hollywood films, is now catching on as South Africans are exposed more and more to American and Western culture. Stores in South Africa are following suit with their American counterparts, stocking their stores full of Halloween candy and costumes, bringing the complete experience to South Africans. Halloween is also the perfect marketing opportunity for clubs and restaurants to hold theme events and parties to bring in patrons. While it is not an embedded part of the region's culture, it is quickly becoming another reason to get together with friends and have a good time.

Happy Halloween!

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A Taste of Africa: Chakalaka (South African Vegetable Stir Fry)

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

We love the name of this simple vegetable stir fry! Sounds like the lead in for a disco song - Chakalaka - Chakalaka! Can't you just hear it? You can pair this recipe up with almost anything! It can be a side dish or, as we mostly enjoy it, all on it's own! Super simple to make and just plain delicious. The trick is to not over-cook the vegetables. We like ours still a bit "crunchy".

We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes. An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo Cookbook. My East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes. We just came across a terrific culinary resource - afrolems.com - A food blog for Nigerian, African and International recipes. Visit them - they have a really nice selection of recipes and the instructions are laid out in a really easy to understand manner. AllRecipes and Food.com are also good resources. Just a simple web search will turn up a wide variety of recipes for you to try.


  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet onions, diced (rough)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, rough chop
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (rough) (we use a mix of whatever we have on hand - yellow, green, red)
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder (you can use less or a bit more according to your taste)
  • 1 bouillon cube (we use either vegetable or chicken - if you want a truly vegetable stir fry - use vegetable)
  • curry powder to taste (as curry is such a personal decision, we suggest starting with just 1 teaspoon and adding more to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  • ground black pepper (again, to your taste)

Note: We tend to like things a bit spicy but not all do. So vary your spices with this recipe until you get it "just the way you like".


  1. Fry your onions and peppers together in the olive oil. We use a wok but a large skillet/frying pan will work well too. It's done when the onion turns translucent (clear). Don't caramelize the onions.
  2. Then add the carrots, water, all your seasonings (again - to taste), and tomatoes.
  3. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
This stir fry is terrific on its own, as a side dish, or accompanied by some rice. Please experiment. We've given you just the rough idea of what we do. One of our relatives grates the carrot (although we prefer rough chunks of carrot). Another friend adds some chopped hot peppers or a diced green chili pepper. We sometimes bung in some mushrooms or other vegetables - whatever happens to be in the fridge and seems appropriate. Enjoy! And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make!
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A Taste of Africa: South African Chutney Chicken

Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different - and yummy - expressions of each culture through food.

Three ingredients? Under an hour? This recipe is just not to be believed! So simple. So delicious. You can use any chutney you like, but we prefer to get Mrs. Ball's Chutney when we can. Any store that sells African (or South African) groceries should have it. For those of you in the Toronto area (like we are) - we suggest a trip to The South African Store in downtown Toronto. You can also order online from them. They have quite a variety of Mrs. Ball's Chutney for sale.


You can, of course, make your own chutney! Here's a link to a recipe we found at Foodgeeks for a chutney they claim is very similar to Mrs. Ball's. We haven't tried it yet. If you do, please let us know how you like it. We try to keep these three ingredients on hand pretty much all the time. Because this recipe is so easy and so quick, it makes for a great meal when you're all busy. It's also saved us when people have dropped in and we're "casting about" for something tasty to serve. Buy chicken thighs or boneless breasts ahead when they are on sale. Keep at least a couple of jars of chutney and packets of onion soup mix on hand and "Bob's Your Uncle", you've got the making of a great meal. Add some rice on the side and a little salad and you're good to go. There is a wide variety of chutney chicken recipes around - just do an internet search and you'll see! We have made this one for years, though and keep returning to it because it's both easy to make and easy to keep ingredients on hand for. Don't mess with perfection, right?

We love sharing our family recipes with you but please remember you can search online and find lots of variations on this dish and other terrific African recipes. An online recipe site we use over and over again is The Congo Cookbook. My East Africa Journal is also a great source for recipes. afrolems.com - A food blog for Nigerian, African and InterNational recipes is a great source. Visit them - they have a really nice selection of recipes and the instructions are laid out in a really easy to understand manner. AllRecipes and Food.com are also good resources. Just a simple web search will turn up a wide variety of recipes for you to try.


  • 12 to 15 chicken thighs (or you can use halved boneless breasts - we prefer thighs because we think they have more flavour)
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) of chutney (we prefer hot chutney but use whatever flavour and heat quotient you like)
  • 1 package of onion soup mix (dry)
  • Set your oven to preheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine the chutney and onion soup mix
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt - or omit entirely - as the onion soup mix is fairly salty)
  • Put your chicken thighs in a baking dish (big enough that there's a bit of room around each thigh - don't crowd them)
  • Pour the chutney and onion soup mixture over the thighs
  • Bake for about an hour (start checking them at about 45 minutes - the chutney sauce should be a little bit brown and have gotten a little crunchy around the edges)
  • You can do the "insert a knife and see if juices run clear test" but, honestly, as long as your oven is working properly, after 45 minutes to an hour, it's done!

There, we told you. Three ingredients and one hour! We have no idea who started making this in our family. It seems like it's been a "go to" recipe forever! This recipe makes about 6 to 7 good-sized servings. A little hint? We almost always make a double batch. Then we either have some leftovers or we freeze it for a "rainy day". For a family get-together, we made an entire "club pack" of chicken thighs with this recipe and not one scrap was left! Enjoy! And please let us know how you enjoy this recipe and any creative culinary modifications you make!

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Got To Go There - The Magic of the KwaZulu Natal

The KwaZulu Natal is about as eclectic a place as you can find. That's part of what makes it so interesting.

Rough and magical, smart and sophisticated, rural and urban, the KwaZulu Natal is a symphony of differences. Shabby suburbs nestled cheek to cheek with upscale malls. Beautiful beaches contrast with dramatic mountains and dry savannahs. African life beats a vigorous counterpoint in markets to the quieter and more pastoral settings in the rural areas.

"KwaZulu means place of the Zulu"

Known as the "garden province" of South Africa, it was created very recently. In 1994, the Zulu bantustan of KwaZulu merged with Natal province. Boasting a long shoreline along the Indian Ocean, the province borders Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. Beaches are well known to be world-class quality. 

Many notable figures of South Africa were born in the KwaZulu Natal. Albert Luthuli was the first non-white person (as well as the first person from outside Europe and the Americas) to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1960). Bhambatha was a 19th century Zulu chief who became an anti-apartheid icon. The province is home to two Unesco World Heritage sites - the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.


The KwaZulu Natal is home to the Zulu monarchy and the majority of the population and the language is Zulu. The monarch is King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. Although the Zulu monarchy has no direct political power, the king holds considerable influence on the more traditional Zulu population. Interestingly, a ceremony is performed every year, adding another wife in marriage to the king.

This was actually a method for creating connections among the various peoples! The ceremony is called the "Reed Dance". The current king has not added any new wives recently as he promotes abstinence until marriage as a way of both preserving Zulu culture and preventing the spread of HIV. Game reserves abound. Bird watching, elephant and hippo sighting, white rhinos, giraffes - the province is teeming with fascinating flora and fauna!

The Hluhluwe Umfolosi Game Reserve seems to be a bit of a "one stop shop" for those wishing to observe African animals. Home to the "Big Five" (elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard), the Hluhluwe Umfolosi is also a great place to spot prolific birdlife.

This prestigious reserve is famous for bringing the White Rhino numbers back from extinction and continued advances in setting benchmarks in conservation. Through careful management, the rhinos have multiplied and are exported to other reserves.

Elephants at Hluhluwe Umfolosi Game Reserve 

The Ardmore Collection

On Springvale Farm, located in the KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), a most astounding art studio is found. Ardmore Ceramics has been acknowledged by the acclaimed auction house - Christie's - as producers of "modern day collectibles". Styled in an exuberant, exotic (even, may we say, whimsical style), the ceramics produced by this remarkable atelier are superb examples of design and craftsmanship. Often inspired by wildlife, Ardmore Ceramics have been exhibited in leading galleries and collections around the world, including The Museum of Art & Design in New York and The Museum of Cultures in Basel (Switzerland). Ardmore's modern art style breaks ceramic conventions, using techniques resulting from years of experimentation with materials and processes. The vibrant colours and enormous attention to detail are simply superb! 
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