You may be asking yourself “How does one celebrate the holidays in Fiji?” Well….let me tell you.
First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend with your loved ones.
Second of all, yes, Christmas IS celebrated in Fiji. The missionaries made sure of that when they converted pretty much the entire indigenous population to Christianity in the late 1800’s. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are also recognized as national holidays. Christmas is definitely celebrated here, but not on the same scale as it is in the states. Here, it was just another Sunday. Local people may cook a special lovo (earth oven) or have family over, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I haven’t noticed a lot of gift giving, which is a nice change from the consumer overload that is America in December.
Now, how did I celebrate this Christmas? The best way I knew how, with my town mate and fellow PCV Megan, watching bootlegged Christmas movies and making southern food and sugar cookies all day. These holidays have been a little rough for me; I’m homesick and pretty unhappy at my job and I don’t know how to fix it. On top of that it’s sweltering hot and I’m still cranky most of the time (see previous post).
So, Megan and I tried to make the most of it. We made her living room a fort of mattresses and on Christmas Eve morning started watching $2 bootlegged movies and continued all through the night and in to Christmas day. The Santa Claus 1, 2, &3, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Love Actually, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Family Stone. I know I know…..no Christmas Story, no Christmas Vacation, no Elf….but we looked and looked and couldn’t find those staples. Sad… We drank outrageous amounts of cheap wine and cooked some delicious southerly food (Mac and Cheese, Fried Okra, Corn Bread). Christmas night we made sugar cookies and icing from scratch and enjoyed them with a nice glass of milk. However, try as I might, it never felt like Christmas to me.
Celebrating Christmas in this country is tough, it’s hard to get in the spirit of things. Every volunteer I have talked to in the last month says the same thing. Most of us are just ready for it to be over. I was relieved to hear it wasn’t just me that felt that way. From what I have observed and heard from other volunteers….things kind of come to a halt in this country during the hot season (Nov-Feb). It’s hard to get things accomplished in the villages because people lose all motivation. It’s hard to get things done in towns because people just stop showing up to work regularly. This is hard for volunteers, because when work slows down your left with a lot of free time to do nothing but think about what you’d rather be doing…
Well hell, 2 downer posts in a row, sorry guys – I’m trying hard to be positive but it’s tough, at least I’m being real with you-right? Anyways, I have big plans for New Years, so pray we don’t get a hurricane so I can have a good time and get out of my funk, because this weekend has potential to be amazing. Stay tuned for my next post!