Christmas News from Tristan, Falkland Islands

On Friday the 15th December all Government Departments on Tristan closed for the Christmas break including the islands only supermarket, everything will remain closed until the 8th January when everyone returns back to work. 

If you run short of anything, or forget an item, you can always depend on borrowing from a neighbor.  The following day was the annual sheep shearing day, when all families came together to flock the sheep into the only one main sheep pen to shear their sheep (seven breeding sheep per family, each with their own ear mark) and collect those which would be slaughtered for Christmas.  After the offices parties and drinks the day/night before (locally known as breaking up day) not everyone felt like chasing sheep.

Stuff roast leg of mutton is the traditional dish on Christmas day, although turkey is now also becoming popular.  At one time families would celebrate Christmas together, living at one of the couples house for a month, this has gently faded out and instead families come together and take it in turns to cook a Christmas meal at their house during the holiday period. 

On the 27th December most people take their children camping out west at the patches, where they can swim at Runaway Beach and play in the rock pools, with their Christmas presents, if it happens to be a boat.  Hand Lines are being replace by rods, and all keen fishermen will compete to land the biggest fish for the braai, to go with the lamb chops, lobster, garlic bread etc, not to mention the cold beer and wines. 

Most of the campers will remain at the patches until Old Years Eve, when many will return to celebrate Old Years Eve/Night when some of the young ones will dress as ugly as possible to frighten the children, before attending a drinks party at the houses of the Administrators and Chief Islander.  Tristanians work continuous throughout the year, with maintenance to their houses, fishing, tending to their animals and crops etc and this is one time when they stop and spend time with their family and friends.    

The Fishing vessel Kelso arrived with the Salvage team on Friday the 22nd December to start the removal of pollutants from the Stranded Oil Rig at the back of the island just before Christmas.  Also onboard are three environmentalists working on behalf of the Tristan Government, continuing the marine survey that Sue Scott previously started three months ago.  

The weather did not allow any boats to visit the vessel until Christmas Eve when the Police Rib and its crew made a run to collect the nine bags of mail and essential items.  The weather remained good and on the 26th December a boat from the rig came to the settlement to collect a diving compressor and two Tristan fishermen to act as guides for the salvage team.  A number of personal items still remain on the vessel and these will be collected when there is another break in the weather.  The salvage Tug De Hong of 3180mt, which departed Cape Town on Christmas Eve, will arrive at Tristan today Thursday the 28th December to assist the salvage team in the removal of heavy items from the oilrig, before making an attempt to tow and scuttle her in deep water.

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