Reports of community activities during Christmas and New Year 2013/2014, when everything closed on Tristan for four weeks for the summer holidays.

2013/14 Summer Holiday News

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 for the 2013 / 14 Old Year's Night Okalolies

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

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!
da Gherardo Rapallo

Message and image received from Gherardo who is one of our Italian friends.
See the Camogli Link Page
for more about the Tristan - Italy connection.
The image shows the important mural 'Adoration of the Magi'
which is a particular focus in the Camogli region at Christmas

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 held on Saturday 14th December. Almost the entire population migrated 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 lambs 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 rents space in large walk-in freezers to store large quantities of imported and home reared foods. During the extended Christmas holiday the Government freezer was 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 was also 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 held a Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 5.00pm, a Midnight Mass and Blessing of the Crib at 11.30pm on Tuesday 24th December, and a Morning Service at 8.00am on Wednesday 25th December. Services are all run by Islander Lay Preachers, Lars Repetto, Eddie Rogers and Carlene Glass-Green

St Joseph’s Catholic Church held 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.

A day in the sun
Photos taken on 27th December from Dawn Repetto

At The Patches

Catfish (Octopus) caught at Runaway Beach by Robin Repetto
seen here with daughter Jade

Relaxing on Runaway Beach

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’ closed on 19th December and re-opened on 13th January! Nevertheless most homes are well-stocked with drinks. The Internet Cafe also closed from Break-Up Day on 20th December until 13th January 2014.

Surgeries continued at Camogli Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, except on Christmas Day) 8.00am to 10.00am. The Doctor was on call and continued any necessary home visits as usual.

Dawn Repetto's Old Year's Night Photos and report

Old Year's Night Okalolies

Old Years Night was a bit dull with showers. Weather was so humid it was almost a blessing as it kept everyone cool. The guys got dressed up at around 4pm and scoured the village. The Administrator's drinks reception held at The Residency started at 6pm followed by a drinks reception at the home of the Acting Chief Islander Lorraine Repetto. Everyone went onto braais afterwards and partying carried on into the night with gong and church bells ringing in 2014.

Who's at the door mum?
Ringing in the New Year as the dong is rung to ring out the Old Year - backed by new street lights for the first year.
New Year - New Year’s Eve is ‘Old Year’s Night’ on Tristan da Cunha and is special.
Celebrations got underway at The Residency where the Administrator Alex Mitham and his wife Hasene 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 were 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.


Photos from Alex Mitham of Old Year's Night Okalolies and other scenes Old Year's Night Scenes


Extracts from Administrator Alex Mitham's Old Year's Night Speech at the Residency Drinks Reception

Thank you for all coming tonight and for the Okalolies looking so attractive this evening!

While many people are able to be here tonight, unfortunately there are those who can’t be, and I know our thoughts and well wishes are with Ida and Frances, as well as everyone in Cape Town. Although I’m sure everyone in South Africa is having their own special Old Year's Night.

As ever with Old Years Night it is a time to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to next year. Every year seems to get busier, and I would be here talking for the full hour if I went through everything that happened - but I think a few areas stand out:

Firstly and most importantly - We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the return to the island after the volcanic eruption. Many things have changed since your return and there are challenges every day, but the island has continually shown it can adapt and overcome any obstacle and this 50th anniversary was a perfect time to recognise and celebrate the islands' success.

We had the visit of the Governor, his Excellency Mark Capes and the RMS returned (possibly for the last time). Sean and Marina unfortunately departed.

We were able to recognise the islanders who have shown incredible dedication and generosity - with MBEs for Lorraine and Joe, as well as a BEM to Gladys and an honorary MBE to Captain Clarence October.

We were also able to highlight the islands incredible kindness and empathy for others -from the fundraising for Clarence's son and family, as well as the Philippines disaster. Your kindness and generosity is rightly recognised around the world. I believe combined the island raised over £3500 – which is a staggering amount of money to raise in such a short period of time.

The electrical project is virtually finished now – the first update in over 40 years which is an incredible achievement. Ensuring we have a modern system to help with future initiatives. I’m still getting used to seeing the street lights on each night! The school has been refurbished, and all government buildings and churches repainted and improved.

Thanks to the finance department, the financial situation continues to improve, but it is still on a knife edge and we cannot be complacent. The importance of scrutinising the cash flows is vital for the survival of the community.

Finally we had a lovely wedding – and I need to thank Eugene for shaving off his beard as I thought we may have an international incident on our hands. I could see us being invaded by the military as they thought poor Kirsty had married a terrorist!

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Old Years Night reception including all those who had donated food. Without them this evening would not have happened.

And Last but not least Hasene and I would both like to wish everyone an enjoyable Old Years Night and have a very Happy New Year for 2014.

After the parties Alex (left) and Hasene Mitham (right) ring in the New Year

Photos from Marc Escudier taken at the reception held at the home of the Acting Chief Islander Lorraine Repetto MBE
later on Old Year's Night with Lorraine shown above left and below right giving her speech.


Hasene and Alex Mitham

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.

And finally -
On Monday 13th January 2014 Government and Factory employees return to paid work having concentrated on their farming, household and social activities during the long break.