Reports of community activities during Christmas and New Year 2014/2015, when everything closed on Tristan for four weeks for the summer holidays.

Event News

Summer Holiday Celebrations 2014/15

Tristan Summer Holiday - Christmas and New Year Celebrations 2014/15
Start from the top or go to the Latest Report if you have visited the page before

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

from Gherardo Rapallo
of Camogli, Italy received on Christmas Eve 2014

showing a mural of the Nativity
in the Italian town that was the home
of settlers - see Camogli Link Page and
Camogli Link Archive Page for more.

Tristan’s Unique Christmas and New Year Summer Holiday

Life in the world’s most isolated community is very distinctive. Here is a guide to the 2014/15 events and we will add photos and reports as they come in.

Quiet Sea Lanes
The last Christmas post arrived on 25th November and the two Ovenstone vessels (Edinburgh and Baltic Trader) left on 7th and 11th December, carrying visitors, ex-pat workers and Islanders going for a summer break in Cape Town. So the village is quieter, with no ships due to call until MV Edinburgh returns about 20th January.

Christmas Festivities start with Pensioners Tea Party
Report from Alex Mitham and Photos from Dawn Repetto

Hasene Mitham organised the annual Pensioners Christmas Tea Party held in the Prince Philip Hall on 9th December. There was a great turn out with the vast majority of pensioners being able to attend, most of them walking to the hall.

As ever with this event a great deal of time and effort had gone into organising the occasion for 75 pensioners - so we would like to thank:

  • Geraldine for preparing the vast majority of the food
  • Rhoda and Cynthia for the stuffed eggs
  • Jeanette for the sponge cake
  • Gladys for the chocolate cake
  • Ferne for the fruit cake
  • Sasha, Natalie and Lynette for decorating the hall
  • Vanessa, Priscilla, Rhoda, Kelly, Desi and Anita for helping out with the food and drinks today

Hasene and I hope everyone has a good Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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 (date to be confirmed). 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.

Sheep Shearing Day 2014
Report from Dawn Repetto
Photos from Dawn and Tina Glass
Sheep Shearing was held on Saturday 13th December. It was a beautiful day and everyone was at the sheep pen
early ready to get started. The sun soon came out and most people were in T-shirts and sunhats.
The children were soon running around the pen with their crooks busy catching lambs
and the older people knitted and watched on. At around midday everyone came home and got together in their groups and enjoyed braais and cooked meals such as curry, meat pie and plum pudding, this went on until well into the evening.

We feature here photos of Islanders relaxing at The Patches,
and at home as well as food in preparation
for the evening meals that followed sheep shearing.

Photos of the actual shearing are featured
on the 2014 Farm News page.



Left: Group relaxing under a gazebo as the braai cooks'
Below: Plum Pudding ready!

Braai with sausages, chicken and lobster!
Pot of Curry

Parents, family and friends
gather for the
St Mary's School Christmas Concert
held on Monday 15th December
in the school hall

To see scenes from the spectacular show
see the 2014 School Christmas Concert page

St Mary's School Pupils
enjoyed a magic
Christmas Party
on 17th December
before breaking up for
their Summer Holiday
which of course includes
Christmas and Old Year's Night Celebrations -

See the 2014 School Page
to find out about the conjurer

Three Week Break Work and FOUR week (one full month) Shopping 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 on Friday 19th December and was marked by work teams with departmental parties. Work at the factory and in Government departments doesn’t resume until Monday 12th 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 effectively for a month, closing for the last time in 2014 on Friday 12th December as stock-taking is carried out W/B Monday 15th December, and won't re-open until Monday 12th January a month later. So families must be organised to have a full larder of provisions. But the best food is locally produced - see the Farming Section below. Nevertheless families also have access to the Government Freezer (where they hire walk-in compartments for their frozen meats and other foods) on six occasions during the break.

Enjoying Break Up Day on 19th December
Photos from Dawn Repetto and Marc Escudier

Hot and Cold at The Factory!

Post Office and Tourism Centre (left) and
PWD (above) Break Up Parties

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’ will open until 18th December and will not re-open until 12th January! Nevertheless most homes are well-stocked with drinks. The Internet Cafe will be open until 18th December and will re-open on 12th January 2014. Internet access will be available for those able to access Government offices or who have wireless access in their homes.

Surgeries will continue at Camogli Hospital on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8.00am to 10.00am. The Doctor will be on call and continue any necessary home visits as usual.

'Big Eats'
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 will be opened on set occasions for Islanders to access their supplies, or take more meat. Amanda was also able to open the freezer at other times by arrangement.

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.

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 will held a Carol Service on Sunday 14th December at 5.00pm, a Midnight Mass and Blessing of the Crib at 11.30pm on Wednesday 24th December, and a Morning Service at 8.00am on Thursday 25th December. It is good that this year services will be led by the resident priest Rev. Denzall Snell assisted by Islander Lay Ministers Lars Repetto, Eddie Rogers and Carlene Glass-Green

St Joseph’s Catholic Church held a Midnight Mass at 11.30pm on Wednesday 24th December and a Morning Service at 9.00am on Thursday 1st January. Services are all run by Islander Lay Preachers Dereck Rogers, Anne Green and James Glass.


The crib in St Mary's Church
- see the 2014 Church News page
for photos of the Carol Service
on 14th December

Old Year’s Night
The Administrator invited all men and women of 18 years of age or over to the Residency for drinks between 6.00pm and 7.00pm. Thereafter all men and women of 18 years or more were invited to the residence of the Acting Chief Islander, Lorraine Repetto.
The famous Old Year's Night
Okalolies again made the events spectacular and unique.

Old Year's Night
Report and Photos from Administrator Alex Mitham
who hosted an Old Year's Night Reception at The Residency

It was a sunny evening
for the Old Years Night Celebrations
and the Okalolies
arrived en masse
after causing mischief around the village!

In fact I was surprised to see stars
from Top Gear turn up as well –
the Stig disguised himself as an Okaloly
and sped around the garden on the Residency Lawnmower
(or was it Lewis Hamilton?)
and I’m sure the Okaloly giving directions
was Jeremy Clarkson…!

Alex's Speech

 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 prayers go to everyone in Cape Town - although I’m sure everyone at Tristan House is having their own special Old Year's Night celebrations.

Alex went on to review 2014 and to look forward to 2015. We publish this part of his speech on the Government News Page

Now for the Thank You's

Once again I would like to thank everyone for your generosity and support this year, it is staggering how generous everyone is – not just in all the hard work, but the gifts, food, presents and general hospitality – so thank you.

I want to pay tribute to the Chief Islander, Acting Chief Islander and Council. As everyone knows the work they do is voluntary and they have to deal with important issues and often have to take difficult decisions when hard choices had to be made. They have been an invaluable source of advice since I arrived and continue to be so.

I also want to thank all HoDs, their teams, as well as the factory workers and fishermen. With a community such as Tristan – it’s always a group effort and everyone contributes to the well being of the island and community.

Now for a few thank yous and acknowledgments of support to the community from two gentlemen who are many miles away but close to everyone’s hearts –

I would like to thank Chris Bates (who retires today) – he has expertly represented Tristan interests for over the past 7 years now and I am glad to say he has been recognised for his efforts and has just been awarded an MBE - richly deserved

I would also like to thank Michael Swales for all his efforts over 50 years in helping the community, and he has also been recognised in the New Years Honours and has received a well deserved BEM

Now closer to Home

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Old Year's Night reception including Desi, Anita, Rhoda, Geraldine, Poppy, Kelly, Shirley, Vanessa, Jane, Marie, Dawn, Beverly, Lorraine, Tracy, Jeanette, Cynthia, Sharon, Allison, Lynette, Natalie, Leanne, Kelly, and Linda - Without all these ladies this evening would not have happened. So thank you

And last but not least Hasene and I would both like to wish everyone a fun Old Year's Night and we hope everyone has a very happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

As we have so many brilliant Old Year's Night photos we have created a new page:
newsoldyearsnight 2014
we think you may enjoy.

Images of a family holiday from Dawn Repetto

Above: Stuffed Roast Mutton
Right: Gary Repetto fishing at The Bluff
Below: On the beach -
ladies knitting while their men clean their catch

Right: Fresh fish frying outside on an open fire

And finally -
On Monday 12th January 2015 Government and Factory employees returned to paid work having concentrated on their farming, household and social activities during the long break.