Celebrating Christmas in Fiji
Christmas is celebrated in different ways around the world, dependent on season and culture. War Cry checked in with four young people from corps in Fiji Division—Suva Central, Labasa and Nasinu—about how they celebrate Christmas with their families.
Alumita Sokulavou Tudrau from Suva Central Corps
Bula vinaka, my name is Alumita Sokulavou Tudrau. I’m 17 years of age and I’m a youth member at Suva Central Corps. I will explain the interesting traditional ways we celebrate Christmas and the reasons why.
First of all, we celebrate Christmas because of the remembrance that Jesus the Messiah was born. We are reminded of those words and their importance when we recall all that Almighty God has done for us.
Some parts of the world are celebrating a white Christmas by making snowmen and baking hot roast dinners with all the trimmings. For us, Christmas is a different experience entirely. My family and I celebrate Christmas by coming together, wearing kalavata (brightly coloured matching clothes), having a feast with lovo (earth oven, like a hangi), ota miti (white ferns and coconut milk), fish lolo (steamed fish with coconut) and traditional desserts like vakalolo (creamy cassava balls with caramel sauce). As we come together, we make new friends, mend broken relationships and offer forgiveness.
Moreover, the reason why we celebrate Christmas this way is that we get to enjoy our time with our relatives, families and friends and share the joy of Christmas together. So, Christmas is indeed a joyful season because there’s plenty of delicious food and beautiful kalavata and enjoyable moments with family and friends.
Sophia Tagicimoala from Labasa Corps
Christmas … a time of gathering together with our extended families in our village to commemorate the birth of Jesus and him in our lives. Celebrations include feasting, fellowship with our loved ones, a time to meet and get introduced to members of our extended families and a big family reunion unites us all for this celebration at Christmas. Christmas is about meeting together and making sweet memories.
Matilda Basil from Nasinu Corps
Growing up as a child, Christmas was always an occasion to look forward to. Presents were something we didn’t get while growing up, as we were taught that it was a season to renew ourselves and our faith with our Almighty Father.
This is a season of giving, forgiving and making amends between loved ones, but most importantly, celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
On this auspicious occasion, families come together to commemorate the life of Jesus and share about struggles encountered during the year and our goals and plans for the upcoming year.
I’m really grateful to have been born into a family who are strong believers in Christ. Our family traditions consist of a family get-together in which lovo and special dishes would be made early in the morning. We would then share a small devotion between the family to remind us about the purpose of the occasion and the impact it has on our lives.
After this is done, we go around to homes of our families and friends to share the meal we have prepared, exchange words of encouragement and give hugs and kisses, and then we go to the park to play and make more memories.
Nathan Cheer from Nasinu Corps
Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus, my Saviour. Being a Fiji Islander, like many other Pacific Islanders we love to celebrate our traditions and customs. We like getting together, engaging in special church services, having family reunions, feasting and dancing to traditional songs like during a fara, which in the Rotuman language means to ask or request. In Rotuman villages people go from house to house on the Island of Rotuma or communities in urban areas with guitars and ukuleles, singing and dancing with joyful spirits.
In response, home occupants bring out perfume, talcum powder and refreshments for the visiting merry-makers. Lovo, steamed rolled beef, watermelon, pineapple and fekei (a Rotuman delicacy) are popular spreads when visiting most Rotuman homes. Getting to enjoy good fun and fellowship of friends and family over the festive season in this manner is the next best thing to experiencing heaven on earth. Truly, he is Emmanuel, God with us!
Words: Hope Burmeister