Petroushka\’s Miscellany

The Antarctic Christmas Songbook

Antarctica is fascinating: It is the fifth-largest continent. It is considered a desert because its annual precipitation is less than 10 inches a year. The precipitation that falls on the Antarctic interior is lower than that which falls on the Sahara. The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was recorded in Antarctica: -89.2ºC. It has winds of up to 320km/h.

More than 99% of Antarctica is covered in ice. This is about 90% of the world’s ice, and more than two-thirds of the world’s fresh water. It also makes Antarctica the highest continent in the world. On Deception Island, you can have a swim in water heated by one of the two active Antarctic volcanoes, while being ogled by penguins.

The only plants in Antarctica are algae, lichens and mosses. There are also some fungi and one liverwort. The largest truly land-based animals in Antarctica (i.e. those that neither depend on the sea for their food nor leave Antarctica in winter) are mites, ticks and nematode worms. The seas surrounding Antarctica, however, have 200 different kinds of fish, some with antifreeze for blood; six species of seal; 12 species of bird; lots of whales; jelly-like creatures called salps; and so much krill that it outweighs all us humans put together.

The ozone hole measured this year over Antarctica is the biggest ever recorded: 29.5 km2 with a mass deficit of 39.8 megatonnes (i.e. the amount of ozone missing now compared to a baseline measured decades ago, before the ozone layer started disintegrating).

Read more interesting facts about Antarctica on the ozone hole website and on this fabulous website devoted entirely to all things Antarctic.

Anyway, during a recent trip to the Sinai desert, in the middle of Ramadan, we were thinking about a friend who is currently working in Antarctica. In between swimming, snorkling, lying in hammocks in the hot shade, and trying to avoid getting sunburnt, we came up with the Antarctic Christmas Songbook. The lyrics to some of the songs are below. I will add the rest when I get them from my friends, who have since returned to NYC after their Egyptian holiday.

Click here to get to the lyrics for all the songs below (and more!)

While Scientists Watch Their Rocks by Night (to the tune of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night)
Oh Come All Ye Penguins
Hark, the Tiny Krill All Sing
God Rest Ye Merry Leopard Seals
Antarctica, Antarctica (to the tune of Oh Tannenbaum)
Antarctica Rocks (to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock)
The Leopard Seal and Penguin (to the tune of The Holly and the Ivy)
It’s Winter in the Antarctic (to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas)
I Saw A Ship Come Sailing In (to the tune of We Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In)
We Three Penguins (to the tune of We Three Kings of Orient Are)
The Twelve Days of Antarctic Christmas


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  1. * Clare says:

    I love your carols!!

    Posted 11 years, 7 months ago

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