By Hugues Goosse
I must admit that the title of this post was easy. When you sit on 500 meters of ice, there is a very small risk that you have no snow for Christmas, even in mid-summer. We could say 500 meters of ice only, because we are close to the coast. In the central plateau, it could be 4000 meters of ice.
As for many people, Christmas will be a special day here too. We do not have many options for clothes in our bags but we all made an effort to be as elegant as possible or to wear some special Christmas clothes and hats.
We will stop the work earlier than usual, likely around 6 PM, to prepare the dinner and we will exchange small gifts that we have brought from home.
For the Christmas meal, you cannot eat a speciality based on local products as it is forbidden to kill, or even perturb the life of any local species. Antarctica is a protected territory.
I guess not many people want to try but it is of course not allowed to eat penguins or seals. The explorers killed many of them to have a source of local fresh meat. Anyway, the description some give of the quality of the meat as hard, fatty and smelling old fish, make me think that we do not miss much.
As this is an exceptional day, we did not drink meltwater from snow but have some South African wine with our Swiss fondue. I am sure we will specially enjoy it!
You may wonder if there are special traditions for Christmas in Antarctica. As there were no human presence before the first explorers, those traditions must be relatively recent.
There is likely local traditions in each base. For instance, some in coastal stations will have a swim. As we are on the field, we will not take part on the ones of Princess Elisabeth.
Nevertheless, Christmas is generally the time when the boat bringing cargo to the base comes to the coast. The Christmas party is then transformed in an ‘unloading the ship’ party in order to bring everything back to the base as soon as possible.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas from Antarctica!