December 5, 2012

CHRISTMAS IN OZ by Caspette of The Narrative Causality


Today's holiday post is a guest post by Caspette from The Narrative Causality.  Caspette lives in Australia and has written about what it is like to celebrate Christmas during the summer down under.


An Australian Christmas is very different to the Northern Hemisphere Christmas. For starters it is smack dab in the middle of Summer and if you live in the far north of Australia it is the middle of wet season. It has always been difficult for me to reconcile the images of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas with the Christmas I have experienced my whole life. My idea of a great Christmas is when the monsoon has come down early and it rains all day on Christmas day. Nothing beats the sound of rain on the corrugated sheeting roof on a Christmas Day morning – Bliss!

Due to Australia being multi-cultural it is hard to pin point one tradition, one clear thing, that defines an Aussie Christmas other then Summer. Summer is our uniting tradition and most activities, no matter what your belief is, are all about escaping the heat.

Christmas for most Aussies involves cricket on TV, swimming, camping (for some), playing some sort of sport (or watching it), Carols by Candle light, holidays and visiting family. Food wise pretty much everything goes from the traditional roast to bbq’s, seafood to cold meats, pudding to Pavlova and everything in between. Prawns in particular become a rare commodity shortly before Christmas with people buying kilos of the stuff.

My family did not have a lot of traditions but every year we always had to wait till December 1st before we could even voice an opinion about putting up Christmas decorations. December 1st was THE RULE. The one rule you don't test, you don't argue with, you just do it. Shops putting up decorations in October? so what (we do not celebrate Thanksgiving or really Halloween so our shops get in real early). Schools practicing Christmas plays and songs? pfft lame excuse. December 1st, not a moment before, game over.

For us Christmas eve usually meant watching Carols In The Domaine on tv (which still airs every year), then us kids would be allowed to sleep in mum and dads AIR-CONDITIONED bed room (oh joy! this was back in the days when only one room in the house had a/c). Then Christmas day was spent present unwrapping, playing outside and eating. Food was usually cold meats, salads and seafood with fights erupting over the prawns (not from me I couldn't have cared less about prawns; this is probably un-Australian to say but I don’t like prawns). We then would relax around the place nibbling on left over’s and lollies (candy). Unless it was a year we were visiting the family interstate.  Then we spent the days bouncing around from one family members place to another stuffing ourselves with roasts and puddings. And if we were at my cousins place us kids would run feral in the nearby bush.

Bringing this post back to books; Sadly, when it came to Christmas stories, Australia does not really have any home grown ones. Which I think is a real shame. As a child I can't say this really worried me greatly but now as an adult with a toddler, who is discovering Christmas, I find it frustrating. However we seem to be making up for lost time lately with a push for Australian Christmas stories. 
So I have listed for your please some of my top Aussie Christmas stories for kids.


The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas 
By Heath McKenzie
ISBN: 9781921167317
A hilarious version of the beloved song this involves Australian animals doing funny things. With bright colourful images this is a winner with kiddies. 











Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle
Author/Illustrator: Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King
ISBN: 9780733322495
Unfortunately summer time in Australia usually equals disaster be it bushfire, flooding or cyclone. This book is set in the Australian bushland during drought and bushfire's. It is the story of Applesauce a little pig who thinks Christmas has been cancelled this year due to disaster. While this sounds a little depressing the story is uplifting and shows dark days eventually end, and the true meaning of Christmas. 

Here is a passage:
"One orange evening, tiger-striped with blackened trees, a pig sat reminiscing. With eyes shut tight, she saw her valley as it had been: a breeze blew and the swing swayed, gently, from a willow bough. But then the raging bushfire had come and licked the earth bare. Applesauce sighed, dawdled up the hill and settled in the dust by the shed, where Joe and Marigold had lived since the fire"

The prose is beautiful and the illustrations lovely.I can see this book becoming a classic and hope it does.



Six White Boomers
By Rolf Harris,illustrated by Bruce Whatley
ISBN: 1865046175
This book is an illustrated version of our beloved Christmas Carol. The song originally written in the 60’s by iconic Rolf Harris is probably our best home grown Christmas Carol. It is a wonderful story of Santa helping a little Joey to find his mum and needing the help of six white kangaroos (boomers) to complete his Australian leg of his journey.

Here is the Christmas Carol sung by Rolf Harris himself (note Rolf is a huge legend in Oz we love him, him and his wobble board).
http://www.youtube.com/embed/hlSsffF2xhA 






An Aussie Night Before Christmas
By Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Kilmeny Niland 
ISBN:1741691125
I do enjoy this book bar one line which I do not think is appropriate for the target audience of kids."We'd left on the table some tucker and beer." Maybe I am being sensitive? because ironically I know lots of people who do put out beer for Santa on Christmas Eve. Either way I improvise and change beer to drink or cheer (which I know doesn't rhyme or really make sense when using cheer but my toddler doesn't know or care otherwise).  But this is a cute and funny story. If you would like to read the story in full then Gumnut Cottage has An Aussie Night Before Christmas in full.





Aussie Jingle Bells
By Colin Buchanan, illustrated by Nick Bland
ISBN:1742835716
Originally written as a Christmas carol back in 1999 this carol has become a firm favourite amongst aussie kids and adults. Most of us can relate to this song and he could be singing about roughly half of our population of Christmas day. It's funny, quirky and what we would call bogan. But you can't help but giggle.  With the help of illustrator/author Nick Bland the beloved carol is now a gorgeous picture book.  http://www.youtube.com/embed/tz_KlcDXvqQ







Cyclone Tracy (My Australian Story)
By Alan Tucker
ISBN 1741697298
This is not a picture book and is the story of a boy in Darwin at Christmas time. Right before one of Australia's biggest disasters Cyclone Tracey strikes on Christmas Eve. Told through his diary we learn about the before, during and after of Cylcone Tracy. While this isnt a traditional Christmas Story this one is about a significant event in Australia's history the devastated a city that took years to rebuild.

27 comments:

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)December 5, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Christmas in Australia sounds wonderful to me. We refuse decorate before December as well.

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  2. I would love it if it rained out here in SoCal for Christmas! That sounds wonderful. Instead, it's usually sunny and hot. I'm going to see if my library has some of these books. Great post!

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  3. Okay, I'm going to have to say those books are probably not available here in the States. Many of the Aussie books aren't. But they have interesting titles and I think the one with the pig and the bush fire sounds like it has beautiful prose even though it's so not sounding Christmasy. The images it evokes are beautiful.


    I go to my mom's in Florida for Christmas and it's sometimes in the 70's or even 80's but it's almost always raining. I don't like it at all, but we don't have tin roofs. I'd like it better that way.


    Heather

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  4. I wish more Australian books WERE available here. I wish a lot more international books were available. We can certainly get them shipped here but the cost is ridiculous. Thank goodness for e-copies!!!

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  5. I wish I had a tin roof to listen to rain, too. Rain makes me super sleepy though, so I guess if I had a tin roof it would be like narcolepsy!

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  6. Me too. Just put up the tree and decorations today, actually!

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  7. Thanks Mandy--I've wondered what it must be like to celebrate Christmas in the summer (wish I knew first-hand :)! It sounds like the US's Fourth of July in a way.

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  8. That was my thought, too, 4th of July! I think it would be very cool to experience it for Christmas. :)

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  9. Thanks so much for your guest post, Mandy! I loved learning about the Australian holidays!

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  10. Well when you eventually get down you will have to visit me :) It's funny I have always wondered what a white Christmas would be like as well. Even though I see the images on tv I just can't wrap my hed aroundit (maybe because I have never seen snow?)

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  11. If you would like to get your hands on a copy try the website www.fishpond.com.au They ship internationally and the prices are reasonable to cheap (if you get on sale, and books are expensive in Australia so for us it is reasonable). They have all of those titles.


    I adore the Applesauce story and it there is a nod to the nativity story in there.


    Nothing beats the sound of rain on a tin roof. Only down side is if you are talking or watching tv when a downpour hits and you cant even hear yourself think from all the noise.....Ahhhhh good times :)


    Thank you for your comments.

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  12. We are actually get awesome bargins shipping in from over seas. Books are terribly expensive here for example a picture book can be about $25 for a brand new title (not reduced etc), hard cover books are roughly $40 (Brand new) and paper back around $25. Its crazy. I must confess to buying most books from over seas myself.

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  13. Thank you for your comment and I hope your library has some books or can get them for you. They are lots of fun to read :)

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  14. Hooray we are not the only ones. Do you have to bring them down January 1st as well? that was our other rule. THanks to mum I now get a twitch when someone suggests to me Christmas decorations going up before Dec 1 at work. Luckily hubby isn't fussed so never asks :) Thanks for you comment.

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  15. Yes your next family trip back to India you will have to swing past. I am only a 6 hour flight from India (well depends which side lol).

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  16. Thank you for letting me guest post. I had so much fun and enjoyed seeing everyones comments. Though I did notice some grammer/spelling errors eek *ducks and hides*

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  17. I can't imagine never seeing snow, even though in NC it has all but disappeared. But I've never seen a wet season, so there's that, too!

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  18. That is how much the books above were from Amazon here with their shipping fees tacked on. I can't believe books are that expensive all the time there! :(

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  19. I kind of wish we had that rule. I always got sick of them before the new year hit while my mom didn't mind it being up all through January.

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  20. Yes! It shall be done! They live in Pune, which is just south of Bombay (Mumbai). After a 2 hour flight to New Jersey and then a 14 hour flight to India, 6 hours will see de-lightful! :)

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  21. I thought any spelling error was Aussie spelling. Shhh! No one has to know about the others! ;)

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  22. Plus I know shipping INTO the USA there is a tax when your book ways x amount. Not sure what the limit is but the fee was something like $20. I once sent a book to a friend in the US (I had gotten the book for free) and all up it cost me $50 just to post it regular snail mail. I nearly fainted.

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  23. I was always told it was bad luck to have them up longer. I dont mess with that stuff I need all the good universe points I can get LOL

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  24. Lets go with that lol

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  25. It's cozy. I love snow storms. We're having a drought this year, though, so we probably won't get a white Christmas.

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  26. Wait you can have snow droughts????

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  27. Yeah, most of our precipitation is snow.

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