Christmas in Antarctica
Christmas Dreams In Antarctica
Christmas is Summertime in Antarctica
Because Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite of North America, the region experiences real Christmas in July Sale type of weather! It's Summer in Antarctica, but it's still December, and still cold. At the same time, this region enjoys 24 hours of daylight on Christmas Day. It would be great fun to spend Christmas Day in Antarctica for an incredible different holiday experience.
Antarctica celebrates more than on Christmas during some years as well. During those years, Christmas is celebrated in McMurdo Research Station in July during their Winter and in December, their Summer. This certainly breaks up the cold weather doldrums and sounds like a lot of fun!
For researchers at the scientific station and its outposts, Christmas dinner might be a simple a meal of dehydrated food. However, it might also be a full dinner with a ham or even a full buffet offered. It depends on what's available and what shipments have reached McMurdo Station.
When holidays are celebrated with scientists from around the world, it's all fun. At McMurdo Station, the largest research center , the facilities and community are the size of a small city. The whole is much more like an urban center than a bleak research station. It is easy to see how traditions from many countries come together at McMurdo to form new traditions for Christmas - like jumping in the cold water!
Antarctic Glaciers Breaking Up
Antarctica is studied from inside McMurdo Research Station and other stations around the continent. NASA also studies it from the sky via satellite ( ICESAT, the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite that stopped in 2009 and ICESAT 2, to be launched in 2016) and even from the International Space Station. From various levels in the sky, trained observers can notice changes in the pack ice and glacial formations,
Interestingly, in October 2011, NASA discovered a wide crack in the Antarctic ice of over 18 miles long with the help of a low flying airplane. At that time, the crack was also about 260 feet or 80 meters wide. This occurred in the ice of Pine Island Glacier, with the crack widening over 6 feet per day. NASA scientists predicted that a large chunk of the ice would separate completely from the larger whole by around Christmas 2011. This was said to produce an iceberg the size of New York City, according to NASA. That might make a fine Christmas travel event, especially from an airplane.
Scientists believe that the breakaway of the new iceberg is part of a natural process that last occurred in 2001. Ice builds up and breaks away, and build up once more. Where will this 2011 - 2012 ice berg travel?
The USA Mission In Antarctica
- United States Antarctic Program: Purpose, History and Future
Important works in the Antarctic target vital aspects of life - works that we have not realized fully to exist. Antarctica is really rather busy!
An Antarctic Research Christmas
America's McMurdo Station is the largest research center among a number located on the continent of Antarctica. The place is so large that people living there must sign up ahead of time for reservations at the annual Christmas Buffet. This is a very popular meal and event. McMurdo Station, which sits on property supervised by New Zealand, also offers Christmas parties, caroling, and outdoor activities when the weather permits.The wind is so loud and strong that some videos recorded outdoors sound garbled.
At some outposts around the continent, scientists and crew assigned to the stations like to celebrate the Christmas holidays by spray-painting metal cables in Christmas Colors. This makes them look like candy cans for the season.
Artificial trees are used at the big station to cut costs on shipping in live tress that die over the holiday. The artificial trees may be stored the rest of the year, but the live trees would need to be somehow destroyed or recycled, a problem on a continent of ice. No compost heaps exist outdoors here.
Antarctic stations operated by various nations of the world feature entertainment and recreation in their on-site nightclubs. McMurdo offers its Erebus Club, Gallagher's Pub, and the Coffee Shop for a variety. The Coffee Shop is non-smoking and the other clubs offer non-smoking nights. The first two clubs are more traditional night clubs, with louder music.
Amundson-Scott South Pole Station
Scott Base, a New Zealand research station, houses only about 100 people instead of the 1200 at McMurdo. The Scott pub is smaller and quieter than McMurdo's as well. offering a more intimate and cozy Christmas experience. new Year's Eve is likely more subdued at Scott Base as well.
Palmer Base houses only about 43 people, so Christmas is like a sardine can there. However, Palmer residents find ways to celebrate and can visit Scott Base and McMurdo.The people at the various bases do visit one another and look forward to the travel.
The Christmas Holiday Season at Palmer Station often starts in mid-December. For this, a sugar cookie bake off is often part of the opening activities and people have fun with their recipes. Then Christmas music is played in the station's store throughout the season, similar to cities everywhere that Christmas is celebrated. At Palmer, an elf might bring each person a red and green stocking and a jingle bell ornament or some other present when they least suspect it. Sometimes large cooking implements or scientific equipment pieces - even broken boat parts - are hung from the mess hall ceiling with red ribbons for decorations.
General Hospital at Christmas
McMurdo Station is a small city under cover all by itself, so Christmas is like Christmas elsewhere in large cities around the world. The scientists and staff celebrate in the manner that they do at home and they often get together to share their traditions in one large celebration. I don't know if Seinfeld's Festivus is part of that, but surely Hanukkah and Kwanzaa fit in and various Christmas traditions of many countries combine. Whatever nationalities serve at the station, their holidays are added in to the celebrations. The non-denominational Christian chapel, Chapel of the Snows, is located at McMurdo Station and offers services from chaplains stationed at the base.
View the attached videos for scenes of the Southern Lights, penguins, and other wildlife, and event scenes around Antarctica.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS