Ho ho ho – it’s that time of the year again.
Like everywhere else in the world, my island of Mauritius has gotten carried away in the commercial whirlwind that is the festive season. While I can assure you that I am not entirely against Christmas, I do believe that we here in the tropics are not very well suited for the whole traditional Christmas shebang. Before you categorize me as a modern day Grinch, allow me to make my case…
Let’s start with Santa Claus. The legendary figure sports a long white beard, travels around on a wooden sleigh pulled by reindeer, and goes down chimneys to deliver gifts to children who have been good. His work attire: a red coat with a white fur collar and black leather boots. Are you begin to see the island problem here? Our poor island Santas would be better off if they were allowed to arrive in swimming shorts on waterskis. I’ve seen numerous Mauritian Santas on the verge of fainting from the 33°C and 75% humidity of our Mauritian tropical summers. Let’s do Santa a favour, islanders, and give him permission to drop the beard too.
As for everyone else’s holiday attire, I can’t understand why people here still insist on dressing up as though our White Christmas did not mean white sand rather than snow. A friend recently asked for recommendations on Facebook about where he could purchase traditional Christmas sweaters. I assumed that he was spending Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere, but no – it was for here in Mauritius. Who in their right mind would buy Christmas sweaters when it’s a sauna outside? Because it’s Christmas, everyone feels compelled to don special outfits which are totally not suited to the outside temperature.
Then there’s all the Christmas decorations that are being sold everywhere (must keep the economy going, right?). Decorating your island house with Christmas trees, fake snow, and icicles makes absolutely NO sense to me. We don’t build snowmen here- we build sandmen! Surely someone can come up with an idea for Christmas decorations suited to the tropics – ones that don’t involve snow.
And what about the traditional heavy Christmas meals? Think roast turkey and Christmas puddings. To start with, there’s a high chance your frozen turkey would have melted by the time you walk from the supermarket to your car through the parking lot. There’s another high chance that your gravy will be off by the time you are ready to eat it as island time dictates that your guests will probably be arriving 2 hours late. December is slap bang in the middle of cyclone season in the Indian Ocean too. This means a 50% chance of spending Christmas in heavy rains with no electricity. Dinner by candlelight is fine, but does anyone want a side of gastroenteritis with their meal?
Things started to get festive here starting in early November (and apparently that’s not so bad, as I am aware that in some countries it starts as early as October). That’s two entire months we’ve had now of Christmas carols blaring in stores all over the island – you know, the ones that get stuck in your head like superglue. I don’t know about you, but I find it a little bit paradoxical to be singing about reindeers when we don’t have any here… nor chimneys for that matter. And I am sorry to disappoint, but the chances of it snowing here in Mauritius are effectively zero.
So here we are – it’s Christmas in the tropics. I’m currently stocking up on candles and canned food because we’ve got two cyclones currently evolving in the Indian Ocean, with one most likely to pay us a visit up close on Christmas Eve… ho ho ho!
Merry Christmas, islanders!