Community came together to celebrate Christmas in Alexandra yesterday.

About 70 people — from orchard and seasonal workers to travellers, visitors to the region and local families — packed into St Enoch’s Church for the annual Alexandra community Christmas Day barbecue lunch.

All the traditional New Zealand Christmas fare was on hand — ham, pavlova, onion dip and fresh Central Otago cherries — with many of the international guests trying them for the first time.

Christmas together . . . Enjoying Christmas Day at the Alexandra Community Christmas Day BBQ Lunch are orchard workers (from left) Hillary Yang, of China, Mizuko Tanabe and Chika Akagi, of Japan, and Kewpie Wang, of China. PHOTOS: SHANNON THOMSON

Orchard worker Kewpie Wang, of China, attended the lunch last year and loved it so much she encouraged others working with her in Roxburgh to return with her this year.

“It’s really, really amazing … the preparation and all the food for people to prepare this … warm and festival vibe for the travellers or workers from other countries here, we really appreciate it.”

For Calysta Provost, of France, the lunch was an opportunity to celebrate Christmas while travelling around New Zealand — and provided her first taste of pavlova, a highlight of the day.

“It was the first time for me — it was really good,” she said.

Kiwi Christmas . . . Celebrating Christmas at the Alexandra Community Christmas Day BBQ Lunch are Harshal Patil, of Dunedin, Calysta Provost, of France and Gabriel Cyr, of Canada.

Organiser and host the Rev Andrew Howley, of Alexandra, Clyde, Lauder Union Parish said volunteers from right across the community came together to help make Christmas happen.

“Some people are here because they want to serve the community, some people are here because they are on their own, some people are here because its a good thing to do on Christmas Day.”

It was important to have events like the lunch, as while Christmas was a time for celebration, it could also be tough for people.

“Christmas Day is a day people often realise they’re alone, life is a bit tougher than they had hoped for or that they just can’t celebrate Christmas in the way they had hoped to and this provides an opportunity for people to be together and have a good feed and to share and be in community together.”