This is the first year that many South Africans will be able to enjoy the Christmas holidays without any level of restrictions due to Covid.
But what should ideally be a joyous time spent with friends and family has now become a meticulous dance around the load shedding (power cut) schedule facing the country.
Currently stage 6 power cuts mean that South Africans will have to go without power for up to 8 hours a day, with even higher stages envisioned during the festive period.
As families frantically try to finalise their Christmas shopping at the busy Sandton City Mall in Johannesburg, Santa Claus was there to entertain excited families amid the power cuts.
“We have to look at the schedule for load shedding (power cuts) first and then we can do everything that needs to be cooked, or we use a gas stove, and we can lay the table outside; do the candlelights and it's going to be beautiful,” said an optimistic Molalo Mishapo.
Cindy Naidoo said while things have been tough this year due to rising inflation and continuous power cuts, it was important for people to celebrate being healthy after living through the pandemic.
“I think coming from COVID, you've got to just...it's a blessing. I think, just to be happy and healthy. Forget about the lights and just live,” she said.
Natasha Singh, who is visiting Johannesburg from Durban was fortunate enough not to feel the effects of the power cuts, but said they had been hectic.
“So at the hotel, we're covered with inverters or generators, whatever it is they have. So we're not feeling it that much at the hotel...Fortunately for that, but we do here we go, switch off and switch on and that's like about three or four times a day. That's a bit hectic.”
Stage 6 load shedding was implemented by power utility Eskom on Friday morning after the breakdown of eight generating units. In a further reduction, load shedding was moved to stage 4 at 5 am on Tuesday and is expected to stay at this level for the rest of the week.