If you're a semi-regular reader, you'll remember that my wife and I spent the Christmas holidays a year ago in New Zealand, which we featured yesterday as our starting place in this round-the-world glimpse of Christmas. Our frequent flyer miles steered us to Fiji Airways to get there, which meant a layover in Nadi, Fiji's international gateway. We left Nashville on December 23, skipped the 24th altogether due to crossing the International Date Line, and landed in Nadi early Christmas morning. The photo is the view from our hotel. It was a bit surreal strolling a white sandy beach under a gorgeous, warm sky on Christmas Day. All along the beach, we were greeted with "Bula! Merry Christmas!" by families enjoying a meal cooked in the traditional lovo, an underground hot stone oven. (Bula is the Fijian greeting, which we learned before even leaving the Los Angeles airport.) The meals often consist of garlic spice chicken, roast pork or beef, chicken, cassava (a starchy root), and dalo (a green leafy vegetable). You might also see palusami, a spiced mutton dish wrapped in leaves and cooked in coconut cream. Because the Fijians take just about any excuse to celebrate, the Christmas/New Year's celebration is a month-long affair. Like most Pacific islanders, they are very community-oriented, so starting about two weeks before Christmas, most celebrations take place not in the home but in the local community house. And like most places around the world where Christmas is celebrated, there is a mixture of Christian, pagan, and secular practices, all rolled into one festive concoction. There are carols, special church services and masses, candles, and yes, Santa Claus (the children do expect presents from Old Saint Nick on Christmas eve); but there are also traditional dances such as the meke dance by the women and the spear dance by the men.
Ever had a South Pacific Christmas? Share your experience!
Bula! Merry Christmas!