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2013/14 Tristan da Cunha Summer Holiday
Christmas and New Year News

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Images show a card sent by Alison Roux & the 1984 stamp issue ' Christmas through the eyes of a child' by pupils of St Mary's School either side of mystery guests at a previous Old Year's Night (see below)

Tristan Summer Holiday - Christmas and New Year Celebrations 2013/14

Tristan’s Unique Christmas and New Year Summer Holiday
Based on the Public Notice issued to the community from Cynthia Green with notes from the Editor.

Life in the world’s most isolated community is very distinctive. Here is a guide to the 2013/14 events and we will add photos and reports as they come in.

Quiet Sea Lanes
The last Christmas post arrived on 27th November and the two Ovenstone vessels (Edinburgh and Baltic Trader) left with their passengers on 10th and 11th December, carrying visitors, ex-pat workers and Islanders going for a summer break in Cape Town. So the village is quieter, with the only expected ship the cruise liner MS Bremen for a return visit on Christmas Eve.

Pensioners Christmas Tea Party
A pre-Christmas Tea Party was organised by Tristan Administrator Alex Mitham's wife Hasene and held in the Prince Philip Hall on Wednesday 11th December.

See also Community News Page

Sheep Shearing Day on Saturday 14th December
for more photographs see the Farming News Page

All Tristan families are farmers. All need to spend hundreds of hours a year growing their crops (principally potatoes at their Potato Patches some two miles away from home, but with ‘camping huts’ adjacent for overnight accommodation and a venue for summer Braais.

The summer season really gets underway with Sheep Shearing Day on Saturday 14th December. Almost the entire population migrates to the further end of the Patches Plain where the sheep pens are sited. Early chaos as every family isolates its own sheep (every person is allowed two sheep and new season lams all carefully marked) from others, gathers them into their pen and sets to work with hand-clippers. The prized wool is later carded, spun and hand-knitted into garments – now into a range of garments in the 37 Degrees South Knitwear Range.

Christmas Day lunch is usually ‘Stuffed Roast Mutton’, and the most sought-after meat is from mountain sheep. Gangs of men climb the almost vertical mountain cliffs in late December, on the Base, between 2,000 – 4,000 feet above sea level sheep graze in wild flocks on lush grasses. Dogs and men gather the sheep into small mountain pens, the sheep are sheared, and prime animals are selected for slaughter, butchered on the spot and carried down ready for the ‘Big-Eats’ of Christmas.

Every family rent space in large walk-in freezers to store large quantities of imported and home reared foods. During the extended Christmas holiday the Government freezer is open from 8.30-8.45 on 23rd, 27th & 30th December and on 6th & 10th January for Islanders to access their supplies, or take more meat. Amanda may be able to open the freezer at other times by arrangement.

St Mary's School Christmas Concert
was held on Monday 16th December

For many more photographs and a report go to the School News Page

St Mary's School Christmas Party held on Wednesday 18th December

For many more photographs and a report go to the School News Page

Three Week Break
Outsiders who have never been to Tristan are amazed at the long break from Government and Factory work. Break-Up Day’ this year was Friday 20th December and was marked by work teams with departmental parties. Work at the factory and in Government departments doesn’t resume until Monday 13th January.

Those abroad who revel in shopping until late on Christmas Eve and resuming by queuing for bargains at the Boxing Day sales will not revel in this life ‘far from the madding crowd’, but many discerning people will envy Tristan’s traditions that place families, subsistence farming activities, attending Church and taking part in community activities above commercial interests.

Was that four weeks? The Island Store is not closed for three weeks, however. It is closed for FOUR weeks as stock-taking was carried on W/B Monday 16th December, so all purchases had to be made by Friday 13th December as the shop won’t open again until a month later. So families must be organised to have a full larder of provisions. But the best food is locally produced or caught.

Break-Up Day Parties
Photos from Dawn Repetto show work teams celebrating 'break-up day' on Friday 20th December

On such a lovely day the water tanks in front of the factory were a good place for a dip - voluntary or not!

More break-up party pictures (3 above and those below) from Marc Escudier






Visit of MS Bremen on Christmas Eve

Passengers arriving on a 'Novelty Tractor Ride' to St Mary's Anglican Church (left)
where they were met by Lay Reader Lars Repetto (centre) and took part in carol singing (right).
For more photographs go to the
2013/14 Cruise Ship Visits Page.

Christmas 2013 Stamp Issue; For details go to: Christmas Stamp Issue Page

Church Services
Church Services are always well attended and people often arrive an hour early for Midnight Mass at St Mary’s and may bring their own chairs!

St. Mary’s Anglican Church will hold a Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 5.00pm, a Midnight Mass and Blessing of the Crib at 11.30pm on Tuesday 24 th December, and a Morning Service at 8.00am on Wednesday 25 th December. Services are all run by Islander Lay Preachers, Lars Repetto, Eddie Rogers and Carlene Glass-Green

St Joseph’s Catholic Church will hold a Midnight Mass at 11.30pm on Tuesday 24th December and a Morning Service at 9.00am on Wednesday 1st January. Services are all run by Islander Lay Preachers Dereck Rogers, Anne Green and James Glass.

Pub and Internet Cafe ' Opening' Hours
Perhaps the greatest surprise to those who don’t know Tristan is the fact that the Albatross Bar (known just as ‘The Pub’ closes on 19th December and re-opens on 13 th January! Nevertheless most homes are well-stocked with drinks. The Internet Cafe also closes from Break-Up Day on 20th December until 13th January 2014.

Surgeries continue at Camogli Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, except on Christmas Day) 8.00am to 10.00am. The Doctor will be on call and continue any necessary home visits as usual if the need arises.

Old Year's Night Okalolies’ from past years, but who will turn up in 2013?

New Year - New Year’s Eve is ‘Old Year’s Night’ on Tristan da Cunha and is special.
Celebrations get underway at The Residency where the Administrator Alex Mitham and his wife Hasene have invited all men and women of 18 years of age or more to drinks between 6 and 7pm. Thereafter all men and women of 18 years or more are invited to the residence of the Acting Chief Islander, Lorraine Repetto. The tradition of men dressing up in weird and wonderful costumes has been strong in recent years and it is expected that these ' Okalolies’ will appear again to usher in 2014. Later most families have mid-summer braais.

The extended holiday is also an opportunity for Islanders to visit and stay at The Caves or at Stony Beach, where a wild cattle herd grazes. Often Islanders go out in a dinghy or RIB on a good day for a spot of fishing to add some fresh fish or crawfish to that in their freezers.

Just the best place to be for 50 years
So whilst those firmly amongst the madding crowd are enduring traffic jams and crowded pavements, Tristan’s tiny community, are very happy as they are this Christmas, and will be relieved the community was able to return safely 50 years ago for Christmas 1963 after the forced evacuation after the volcano erupted in 1961.

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