Christmas the Pitcairn Way


25th December 2005 Christmas is a time of giving, a time of receiving, a time of fun and excitement, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus , a time for a break from work, a time to go shopping, a time to spend with the family or friends, a time to set up the Christmas tree, a time to think about Santa Claus.

But what would you do on Pitcairn where there's  only one shop, there's no snow, that Santa Claus would probably overheat in his thick red suit and that no one could afford to cut down a pine tree? The answer is you celebrate Christmas anyway and it ends up a lot more fun. Here's how...

Apart from the occasional Christmas music echoing across the valley or some homes decorated with imported Christmas trees and lights there's hardly any evidence  Christmas is near until a few days prior to Christmas..

The only store on the Island stocks up with Christmas gifts ordered several months in advance from New Zealand and this year the gifts arrived just days before Christmas, but were soon sold out. Some folks may have ordered gifts from overseas several months before but had to chance it arriving on a ship in time for Christmas. 

This year the Christmas season began with a public dinner and the singing of Carols in the Public Hall. Then on Sabbath, the day before Christmas there was a beautiful Christmas service on the life of Christ in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 

On Christmas Eve kids went to be early  but it wasn't just Mum and Day who filled up the kids stockings but the entire community did too. People came from all around. And the stockings weren't stockings at all but baskets hung outside the main door where they were filled to the brim with goodies.

On Christmas day trees were cut and planted in the main Square. But these aren't pine trees but "Christmas trees" called the Jesmeh, shrub-like-trees  selected because they are low growing and are filled with small branches. About mid afternoon the community gathers in the Square fetching gifts which are then tied onto the trees. The fun begins  when about an hour later selected people begin  "shouting" out the names of those on the gifts. This continues until the last of the gifts are distributed..

The day comes to an end when families and relatives meet together for a Christmas meal.

Santa Clause (David Brown)

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