Welcome to the second edition of Robyn’s New Wanderer!
Every Saturday Nicola will be regaling you with stories from her trips, how to study abroad and all sorts of fun tips on travel!
This week? Well this week I finagled a piece from her on Christmas traditions as she boarded a plane for a very new tradition: Christmas in South Africa!
So Nicola, a Bermudian who swims on Christmas Day (!!!), tell us your Christmas tales:
We are racing towards Dec 25th (Christmas of course!) at light speed and palm trees decorated with Christmas lights now make Hamilton our own version of a winter wonderland…
Well, winter in the sense of wet & windy, not white, although we do have a few sunny days too! Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Bermuda is free of frost, snow and ice, but as a ‘sub-tropical’ island we still have chillier temperatures than the Caribbean.
Bermudians swimming at this time of year are few & far between, except for the brave ones who take a dip on Dec 25th or Jan 1st… myself included, I may proudly add.
As a recent university grad, living at home has meant that I have FINALLY been able to partake in pre-Christmas Bermudian festivities since I am no longer taking refuge from the Canadian blizzards to study for the usual onslaught of December exams. Yay!
What sorts of things make up a Bermuda Christmas season?
- The lighting of the Christmas tree at City Hall, with carols and Santa’s visit
- National Trust Walk-About in St. George’s with entertainment and snacks
- Late Night Shopping in the city of Hamilton on Fridays
- Santa Claus reading the children’s Christmas letters on the local TV channel
Plus, as I was delighted to learn myself this week on a visit to Dockyards, the Bermuda Rum Cake Company makes special edition Christmas Rum Cake… now is the time to sample and “Buy Bermuda”!
But Nicola has not always been in Bermuda! Nope. She’s also “done” Noël in France:
The majority my Christmases have been celebrated in Bermuda, although I have spent some memorable holidays in France and Croatia.
Even though I was on Rotary Exchange in Lorraine, France in 2004-2005, I remember the Christmas season very well!
Europeans celebrate the feast day of St. Nicolas on December 6th, and in Lorraine there is a town called St.
Our Rotary district had 25 students and we were all invited to the weekend ‘Fête de St. Nicolas’… with a Christmas market and candlelight church service. We all had long, white candles that we raised during the refrain of this song:
Saint Nicolas, ton crédit d’age en age,
a fait pleuvoir tes bienfaits souverains.
Viens, couvre encor’ de ton doux patronage
tes vieux amis les enfants des Lorrains!
[Saint Nicolas, from age to age your favor
has rained down supreme blessings.
Come with your gentle protection to cover still
your old friends, the children of Lorraine.]
(As a side note, in France my name always causes excitement as the French pronounce the masculine name “Nicolas” as “Nicola”, with a silent ‘s’… so I tended to surprise school teachers with the morning roll call, and had mail addressed to a Mr. Nicola Arnold… bah humbug!)
Last week, I mentioned that my family and I are jetting off to Europe and ultimately to South Africa to spend the holidays with the Arnold grandparents and relatives who reside in Johannesburg.
We are backpacking, as luggage would be a drag with all our flight connections. To my great delight, my father will be travelling in a kilt. Yes! A Scottish kilt… Why, you might wonder? That is a whole different tale… look out for that posting, as I shall be including photos
I cannot yet speak of Christmas in South Africa, but to paint you a picture of South Africa, we are looking forward:
– a warm summer sunshine in this beautiful ‘Rainbow Nation’.
- in Cape Town, we hope to have an excursion up Table Mountain
- Cape Town boasts beautiful beaches, perhaps we will visit Camps Bay
- The Arnold family will celebrate and catch-up most evenings around the braai (barbeque in Afrikaans… which I remember writing in my school journal in Grade 4, that my family had a bry [sic] last night, with the teacher being quite confused!)
- we shall try to squeeze our favourite South African chocolates, such as Peppermint Crisp and Chocolate Log, into the sides of our backpacks
- with any luck, I hope that World Cup vuvuzelas do not become the new, creative instruments to festively wish people a Happy Christmas
Christmas in South Africa will be new for me, so I look forward to sharing the traditions and experiences with you upon return… and look out for special “postcards updates” during my Christmas trip!