Saturday, December 14, 2013


Christmas in PNG

Christmas in PNG appears to be more low key than in the U.S. It is taken seriously as a Christian Holiday, with Christmas Eve. service being very important. The churches are nicely decorated with greens, such as palm branches, and lots of flowers. I have not seen Christmas trees, advent wreaths, or nativity sets in churches. One of my fellow teachers has gone to give the Bible studies at a Christmas Camp. Apparently people come together to spend time in intensive worship and bible study. I would imagine there will be lots of singing and talking also.

Getting together with family is very important. Since this is summer break as well as Christmas time, many people go back home for a month or so. Families tend to not move around much, so those who have moved away tend to keep tight ties and move back to their home area when they retire. I have been told that the time together tends to involve a lot of visiting. I think the lack of media in most places (only radio) helps keep people talking to one another. However, I imagine they do help with the tasks of daily life, such as gathering fire wood, working in the garden etc.

There is little decorating of public buildings outside of the churches. When I was in Lae (the nearest city)most of the decorations I saw were in places that catered to the expat community. Some of my students have said that decorating your home is done only by people who have been in one of the cities and considered to be somewhat ostentatious. Most of the home decorations come from China so tend to be nonreligious. For example, I was unable to find angle or star candles, so finally bought some with reindeer. Gift giving appears to be less elaborate than in the U.S. The stores in Lae advertised gifts, but I don't hear people talking about shopping.

What Season is this?

What season is this? Even though this will be my second Christmas in the southern hemisphere, I am very confused about it being close to Christmas with the weather being hotter and the days being longer. I had not realized how tied I was to weather cues for holidays. I have put up a new Advent calendar a friend brought back from Germany and a small artificial tree to help with the visuals. The fact that the long school holiday has started helps accentuate my feeling of this being summer break only, not our Christmas Holiday also.

Thinking about the weather, I have a greater appreciation for Gigmai Okuk and other PNG students who survived the Iowa winters while attending classes with me at Wartburg Theological Seminary.

Thanksgiving written on Thanksgiving Day
Well, my day here in Papua New Guinea has been quite a change from what I would have celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. First of all, the dry season has gotten underway so it is quite hot in mid-day. I forgot to put on my sunblock so I got slightly burned while watching the local elementary school graduation (K - 2 here). No TV to watch football, but I got to give out the Health and Hygiene Awards to First Graders.

The meal after the graduation was nontraditional for an American Thanksgving. It included fried rice with the local equivalent of SPAM, instant noodles with chopped up sausage bits, boiled white rice and ibeca, a local green. For the sweet there was fresh pineapple, bananas and mangos.

I am thankful for many things today. Including the joy of the semester being over and the long school break (2 months) starting on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. Ann, it's interesting to think about the "cues" we have for holidays. Is there anything in your internal clock that says it's time for Christmas? I am pondering the effect of the shorter days as I prepare for a first Christmas up north in some time. I feel calmer in these shorter days than I did in the more temperate Texas weather. That may have more to do with the slower pace of a smaller town too. You, of course, are having the opposite kind of experience: longer and warmer days. Hmm. . . keep writing. It is so good for all of us to step outside of our usual expectations and see that our life is not universal. Thanks!