As people around the world are gearing up to celebrate their Christmas traditions, I thought that I would share some information about Christmas time in Fiji. Keep in mind that it is summer in the South Pacific Islands, and a “White Christmas” is not snow falling in the brisk air, but rather, it is the sun glistening off the sandy beaches.
About two weeks before Christmas Day, everyone gathers at the community’s largest house and celebrates there until two weeks after New Year’s Day. They participate in singing, and enjoy the traditional Meke dance, which is usually a part of every important occasion in Fiji. This classic dance form involves a fan dance, or seasea, by women, and a spear dance known as, Make wesi, by men. Those who do not dance will light candles around the area where the Meke is performed.
Fijians love to eat all year long, but on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day a big feast is planned. First of all, everything is cooked in the lovo underground hot stone oven that are place just outside people’s homes. Some of their favorite dishes that are prepared during this time include, garlic and spice filled chicken, pork, beef, fish, dalo (edible root), and cassava. A special dish called, Palusami, is also cooked during the Christmas celebrations in Fiji. It is prepared by adding spices to mutton and wrapping it in dalo leaves before cooking in coconut cream. As with many celebrations during the course of the year in Fiji (as well as throughout much of the Pacific Islands), the traditional drink of kava also plays an important part of the Christmas time festivities.
Fijians will also spend Christmas visiting churches to observe the midnight mass and listen to carols. At night, children expect Santa Claus to visit their homes and leave behind toys and gifts for them.
From all of us at ICAS, we wish you the very merriest of Holiday Seasons!!