Enjoy a Very Merry Tongan Christmas!
It’s the same every year: struggling for ideas for presents to your loved ones or having time off work that you don’t know what to do with. How about doing something different this year? How about spending Christmas in Tonga?
Tonga is a country where Christmas is celebrated with absolute enthusiasm. Experience unique traditions, a sunny Christmas in the tropics, and amazing cultural singing and dancing. Alternatively, you could escape Christmas altogether by staying at a remote island resort. There are many more reasons why you should travel to Tonga this Christmas that we list below.
1. Experience Two Styles of Christmas
Although there are a couple of different styles of Christmas in Tonga, one thing is for sure: it’s going to be different from home. On one hand, you could be staying in a village or town, experiencing the culture and traditions of the local people along with their singing, feasts and church services. On the other hand, you can escape Christmas altogether by staying at a remote island resort. Compare the two options in Where to Spend Christmas in Tonga.
2. See Unique Christmas Traditions
While Tongans certainly celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm, they have different traditions to what you might be used to. First, there are no pine trees, so any chosen tropical tree is decorated with candy, balloons and paper chains. Fireworks are a big deal at Christmas, with some communities making their own tropical fireworks by lighting a line of coconut husks on the beach in a tradition known as “Tutukupakanava“. Also, most shops and business shut down for Christmas until the New Year.
3. Experience a Tongan Christmas Church Service
Tongans are devout Christians, so Christmas is extremely important in their religion. While many Tongans go to church every Sunday throughout the year, some of the most elaborate church services happen around Christmas, with enthusiastic harmonious singing and brass bands playing, especially in the larger churches. Many churches are extremely welcoming to visitors, so experience the cultural event for yourself. See the 10 Best Churches in Tonga for Tourists to know where to go.
4. Take a Break from Consumerism
In Tonga, Christmas is not about buying gifts for each other. It’s about family, food and church. The only form of gift-giving is when some families exchange food, so families will enjoy several different meals throughout the day. It can be a nice break from consumerism and be a reminder of the things that matter.
5. It’s All About the Food
As you may have guessed, it’s all about the food on Christmas Day in Tonga. While many families will make food to gift to each other, others will prepare an Umu. This is a traditional cooking method where food is slow-cooked in an underground oven. If you’re staying in a resort, the resort may put on a special Tongan feast for the day.
6. It’s the Middle of Summer in Tonga
Ok, Tonga is warm all year round, but it experiences some of its warmest temperatures throughout December and Christmas. This is a stark contrast to the snowy Christmases experienced in the Northern Hemisphere, so if you come from that part of the world, a sunny Christmas is quite the novelty! Learn more about the climate in Tonga in What is the Weather Like in Tonga?
7. Enjoy Tongan Cultural Performances
You’ll experience the amazing acapella singing in churches, but another way that Tongans do performances is through Tongan-style carol singing. A tradition known as “me’a lea” takes place between Christmas leading up to the New Year in Tongan villages where groups of people get together to make bands with make-shift instruments and sing at different homes.
8. The Holiday Season in Tonga is Long
The Tongan holiday season starts as early as November 4th, which is Tonga National Day. The holiday season continues through December and ends on January 1st with New Year’s Day. Learn more about the holidays in Tonga in the Public Holidays in Tonga (& Other Important Dates).
9. Learn to Say Merry Christmas in a New Language!
Throughout your trip to Tonga around Christmas, you’ll hear the locals saying “Kilisimasi Fiefia!” many many times! Trust us, after spending Christmas in Tonga, you’ll be saying “Kilisimasi Fiefia!” for years to come.
10. It’s the Low Season in Tonga
Christmas is actually one of the quietest times to visit Tonga. Enjoying Tonga without the tourist crowds is one of the benefits of the low season. Another benefit is that many accommodations, domestic flights and activities has discounted rates during this time, so keep an eye out! See more benefits of the low season in the 10 Reasons to Travel in the Low Season in Tonga.