Christmas cake and carols
Christmas in Fiji
In the scatter of islands which make up Fiji, the indigenous Fijian majority share a deep Christian faith, so Christmas is a religious festival first and foremost. Nevertheless, there's the familiar flurry of transport madness as town dwellers try to return to ancestral villages for Christmas, bringing practical gifts such as fabric, garments, soap and groceries. Small ferries set off from the main island of Viti Levu, overloaded with smiling passengers, cartons of tinned food, sacks of flour and rice, bales of cloth and even building materials.
Typically, huge efforts are put into preparations of special Christmas feasts, held in the shade of temporary shelters decorated with fresh flowers like the one pictured here. Most people dress in colourful bula style. Even traditional Christmas cakes, which evolved in a northern hemisphere winter, are often baked. Some of the ingredients in these cakes are locally available substitutes which work brilliantly, like the recipe I've adapted below. Photo source: Australia's Best recipes. Go ahead and try this out. It's super easy, moist and rich.
Tropical Christmas Cake
125 g preserved or fresh ginger
1 can (440 g) crushed pineapple, incl. fluid
375 g mixed dried fruit
1 cup raw or brown sugar
125 g butter, chopped
1 tsp mixed spice (eg garam masala)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 beaten eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
Place fruit, crushed pineapple including juice, butter, sugar and spices in a saucepan. Simmer slowly for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow to stick to bottom of pan.
Add bicarbonate of soda. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
Add eggs and flour.
Preheat oven 160C. Pour into a prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden.
Remove from oven, cover with foil and bake for a further 50 minutes.
A Fiji Carol from Dolce Sounds
This wonderful choir sings Isa na yakavi ni Kirisimasi (Christmas Eve), an original Fijian Christmas carol. The singers are relaxed as they interact with the audience at a party. How can they laugh and sing at the same time?
I wish all my readers a very merry Christmas and happy 2020, wherever you are in our world!
I look forward to hearing from you!