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To Braai or Not to Braai, That is the Question.

Updated on March 26, 2014

The Rites Of Spring

That Succulent Middle Cut Of A Matured Rump
That Succulent Middle Cut Of A Matured Rump


This hub is for mature audiences and PG is recommended. So bring in parents and Grandparents to ensure maximum Parental Guidance while on this page.

Some of the rituals have been excluded or shortened here, as these or only for members who have served there apprenticeship.

Official Spring VS NaturesSpring!

The Winter has finally gone, it is now Spring (Officially Spring 1st of September) although not quite. Although the swimming pools have been uncovered, there are still many of those amongst us that would not even think about having a swim until after the first rains.

We as children could not understand this. The pools are open, the day's are getting longer as well as hotter, so let's swim. Oh no, the rains have yet come!

The reason may be forgotten amongst most of us, but there are those that still hold onto the traditions of old. The Earth has to be cleansed and Blessed by the First Rains of Springs.

The rivers are then fed from their catchment area, cleaning the river beds and washing away the stagnant pools, adding silt, nutritious mulch, mold, seeds and micro orgasms down to the waiting dams. Bringing and renewing life to Natures Abundance to the Earth.

So as too swimming, it was safer and cleaner swimming in the rivers after the first rains.

As oft would have it, this year, we had past the official, mans calender, and the celestial 24 or is 23 September for the transition from Winter to Spring and here we, on the Highveld only had rains in early October this year.

The Heavy Thunderstorm Clouds
The Heavy Thunderstorm Clouds

The heavy clouds massed up on the Eighth of October in our area, maybe just maybe it would rain and not move on to another catchment area.

The deluge had reached our catchment area, and was headed our way.
The deluge had reached our catchment area, and was headed our way.


In this Celebration of Spring, The first rain storm struck on Friday Afternoon, with the added double announcement of Spring.

Firstly it was a Thunderstorm, the heavy Grey clouds massed up in the South West, which in itself augured well for the coming season.

The storm approached and the birds disappeared to their roosts, a quiet descended, then a chill wind brought the clouds overhead. The heavy rain drops fell and exploded on the ground, sparsely at fiest with large gaps between their nearest neighbour. Then harder and closer together heavy drops of rain started to explode on the ground, trees, structures, paving and roofs.

The drum, - drum, drumming sound of the rain covered the surrounding area. The sounds cars driving past was drowned out the only other sounds were the gurgling of water rushing and gushing out of the downpipes of the filled gutters.

And Then

The added blessing of hail, portending good rainfall for our crops.
The added blessing of hail, portending good rainfall for our crops.

There was a dramatic increase in the level of the sound, the chill in the air had increased, as the bass drum like beat of descended hail reverberated in the area. The lawns flower beds and roads were covered with perfectly formed spheres of ice.

A second blessing, that marked that this Spring and Summer would be seasons of good and plentiful rainfall.

Spring had truly arrived.

Before We Get To The Actual Rites

You need to understand the actual importance of The Braai to us over here in South Africa, in our daily lives and social standings. The braai really is not only the Afrikaans speaking populations but also the English and all of the other Nine Official language population groups.

As it not only epitomizes our Southern African life style, as it really dominates our social life..

So important is the braai to us males, that when we are house hunting we carefully watch as our wife, for that telltale that gleam in the her eyes, this indicates that she is a bit more than partially interested in that house.

So then we take an interest and make a beeline into the yard, examining all possible spots. back porch, patio or lapa area, to check out if there is an existing braai, or failing that is there potentially a spot where a braai can be erected?

If there is no actual erected Braai area, then you are sure that he has a gas braai or one of those kettle or drum braai in the garage. This is normally the case of our more senior population. As by now they have had their fill of the hunters mode of braaing, and seen more Rites of Spring than that of the 1st or even 3rd time buyer of properties, and have passed on the box of matches to the eldest son, as had his father had done for him..

No train smash, as you have by now spotted several likely spots for that braai to be erected.

Definitions are required here. Braai, an Afrikaans word that means grill but actually means grill meat over an open flame.

Lapa a construction of gum pole uprights and the roofing frame work that is covered by grass thatch. The lapa may well have sides but generally will be open. a very popular gathering point in the house, as this where the males usually congregate when visiting.

Braai, Barbeque or Cookout

As the Grand Master of the Royal Order of Braai, or The ROB for the Southern Transvaal District, I called out all my 1st Lines on the contact list, to officially declare the braai season open. They in turn called out there line, and so on until the entire Order where notified.

This, I might add, is despite the fact that we mostly all had attended or participated in Heritage Day, a Public Holiday which is celebrated in South Africa, and recently the habit is to go a public place in masses, to have either solo braais or the communal type of braais. Very much like the Americans with there Fourth of July picnics and cookouts, that is without  without the grand firework displays. This may well may it in a few years come, as we are slowly becoming more and more Americanised.

So according to our Orders Charter I had declared that the coming Sunday will be the official start of the braai season.

The Start Ritual

  • This solemn occasion must be done by all members of The Order at the same time on that the Braai Opening Seasons, or BOS, declaration.

The Saturday before the BOS

  1. At sunrise the braai itself must be cleaned from top to bottom inside and outside.
  2. The double page of that days front page of the current newspaper, is crumpled into a ball and placed in the center of the braai.
  3. A wigwam or tepee of fine dried cuttings or kindling is placed over the the waiting newspaper.
  4. Another layer of thicker dried branches, preferably from the cuttings from pruned fruit trees.
  5. Then the coals and half burnt ashes,from the Last Braai of Previous Season, or LBPS which had been carefully saved for this purpose, is placed over the arrangement.

A single piece of Boerewors or a pair of Sausages either Pork, Chicken or Beef is placed in the grill.

  1. At exactly midday, a single match is lit and from its flame the newspaper is set alight.
  2. As the flames start to lick the fine kindling, and thicker twigs and branches,
  3. The Braai Grid is placed onto its designated slot.
  4. As the flames lick and consume the sacrificial offering, you chant that ancient verse,in somber tones:- Braaivleis - Rugby - Sunny Skies - and Chevrolet four times which representing the four points of the compass. Symbolic to honour our origins, and in respect for many of our fellow BOM have left our land and have gone to other countries.
  5. The Braai is now sanctified and ready for the new season.

Special Note: as the ROB it is also my responsibility to email:

  • Emails to ALL the Order Members INCLUDING those who have retired or have moved out of South Africa, informing them of the date and times of the Rituals, To encourage them to participate in the Rituals.
  • To Document and Record the times in the Orders Log
  1. Cleansing Time Start
  2. Cleaning Time Finish
  3. Time the Sacrifice placed on the Braai grill
  4. Time taken to be totally consumed by the flames
  5. Time that the Fire was nothing but ashes
  6. The number of members that confirmed Participation

The Traditional Layout of the 1 Foot of Boerewors
The Traditional Layout of the 1 Foot of Boerewors

The Sanctification Boerewors

Note the spiral layout of that single piece of Boerewors, placed in the exact center of the grill.

On Saturday after doing the cleansing, and before doing the sanctification, you need of course to have obtained the Prerequisite Meat cuts both for the sanctification as well as the important cut for the first official braai.

For The Sanctification

The meat for the sanctification is transferred directly from the fridge to the fire.

  • You require a piece of Boerewors between six and nine inches in length.
  • Or a linked pair of sausages, the choice is yours, however it must be the same meat as you most commonly braai with.

For The Ritual

This must be a single cut from the center piece of a matured grade A rump. It must be between an inch to an inch and a half thick.

  • A single piece of boerwors one foot in length,
  • Or - Six linked sausages (Beef,Pork or Chicken) The only caveat is that this must be of the same type as used in the Sanctification ritual.

All meat must be kept in the fridge until required.

The Rump for the Ritual must be taken out and prepared in the following prescribed manner:-

18h00 South African time

The single slice of rump is placed on the ceremonial white plate. and left to rest at room temperature for an hour.

The excess blood is then drained off the plate.

A fresh lemon is cut into half

The juice of the one half of the lemon is squeezed out over the rump

The juice of the other half the lemon is squeezed into a clean glass bowl, to which a cup of hot water is added.

You rinse your hands and all implements that you will use for the ritual in this water.

Massage the lemon juice into the rump.

Finely chop two cloves of garlic add  this to 1 teaspoonful of ground mixed peppercorns

Massage this into the rump.

Cover and leave to rest.

At 17H30 - Start the Fire

Sweep the contents of your braai area out into spade or a pan. DO NOT DISCARD

Build the fire as for the sanctification, leaving out the coals and ashes from the last braai.

At 20h00 start the fire, and once the wood has stopped burning and the glowing coals are glowing red and orange.

Add the grill, and then place the rump on the center spot of the grill.

Let it cook, until the first quarter of an inch of the rump on the grill has started to turn cooked meat brown.

Turn it over, add the boerewors and drape it around the piece of rump.

Cook this side of the rump to the same level - this is now cooked to rare to medium.

Cook further on both sides if so desired.

The boerewors needs to be turned over and the end piece is cut off to see if it is cooked through.

Once the meat is cooked.

The Final Phase of Rites Of Spring

Serve with pomp and ceremony

As a postscript:

I have not mentioned the most important aspect of this ritual.

The meat Must be accompanied with a fresh garden salad, baked potatoes and or Stuiwepap.and a mushroom sauce.

A bowl of strawberries as well as cherries if available, served with a dipping sauce of melted chocolate for desert.

Each of these has a symbolic reason, which will be explained in "The Official Braai Handbook" soon to be released on DVD (In time for the Next Rites of Spring).

After noting all the relevant times. In the Official Log

Put on some Pan Pipe Music

Feed your partner and be fed by your partner, pamper each other be romantic and light up the patio with only candles.

At 22h00 after the meat is consumed and that warm glow of closeness has been kindled, Divest yourself of clothes and inhibitions.

Be sky clad and moon clad

Dance around the dying embers of the fire



Did you learn anything about The Braai

How did you feel about the mystic of the Braai

See results


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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      That is very nice Rodney

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Sallybea, it does seem a strange way of entertaining to the UK people, way back in the early 70's, we had a couple living next door to us, who were fascinated by us cooking the meat on a braai, they enjoyed it so much that we would braai practically ever weekend, the numbers of their friends were all from the UK.

      The wife was from Birmingham, he from Hull. They went home for a month to show off the Grandparents their grandaughter. Needless to say all the friends and family would arrive, so Ron, the husband, told all of them to bring over their favourite sausages and a salad or some buns.

      He made the " roadside braai" a hollow square of bricks, a grid on top, and braaid the meat, piled the whole lot into a large serving platter. The friends and neighbours caught on and were soon doing the same. We found this out when the gparents came over for visit.

      Thanks for giving me a flashback from almost 45 years or so ago.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      You remind me of a few things which are sadly missed by me, first the braai and everything that goes with it and of course those wonderful thunder storms which we see so few of in the UK. I suggested having a braai to a gathering of friends on Sunday and their reaction was very strange - they seemed unable to grasp the idea that a braai was for sharing, and a bringing together of people and food to share and enjoy - instead all they could think of was charred meat on a grid!!

      Lekker bly. Sally

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      6 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Come on now Sixtyorso, you must admit that a good braai on a crisp Highveld winters day, like today being Midwinter and all. Set a fire going in the Webber, or light up the lava rock braai, get out a couple of steaks, a chop or two.

      Make a flagon of Gluwine, toss up a quick salad, enjoy some good music just because you need it!

      hey this can apply to all readers!

      Thanks for the comment, appreciated as always.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      you have done it again. Midwinter and braaing raises its ugly head. Although it is mid-summer in the US. And again it is pretty cold in South Africa

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      6 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      elnavann, thank you firstly foryour comment, as to threlease of the Braai Handbook, I am looking for a November release of this book! All things being equal.

    • elnavann profile image


      6 years ago from South Africa

      Is the official Braai Handbook released yet?

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      only just!

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Well I would have to write about it, so that we have that warm comfort of a Braai looming, maybe even a small Potjie starter.

      Thanks for the comment, today is a little warmer than the corresponding period yesterday.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Well you nailed that one good. But reading this at 3 degrees celcius and mindful that it is not yet mid-winter makes this a distant future event that almost looks like it may never happen! If this is global warming it better bloody well get a lot warmer. More like an ice age beginning!


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