December 21, 2014

A Rough Guide to an Australian Christmas by Mandy R. of The Narrative Causality

Christmas in Australia is a different affair from the Northern Hemisphere. For us Christmas falls in the middle of summer, so we have endless heat (sometimes heat waves) and storms. Australia at Christmas time also means natural disasters. We have had cyclones, floods, earthquakes, droughts, heat waves and bushfires devastate our landscape in an epic way over the Christmas period. The most famous Christmas disaster in Australia is Cyclone Tracy; it hit early in the morning of Christmas Day in 1974, while the inhabitants of Darwin were sleeping. 71 lives were lost as the city was obliterated by a category 4 cyclone. Until only recently it was Australia’s worst natural disaster. However we don’t let this hold us back from celebrating.

Two major department stores in Australia (David Jones and Myers) for decades have been dressing up their street front windows in a Christmas theme. Every year is an elaborate beautiful window. Families will go in from all corners of the city to view the windows and sometimes (like us) when on holidays will go and view the windows. It is quite a lovely tradition that I hope will continue for many years to come.

Fake Christmas trees are all the rage in Australia and in fact I don’t think I have ever met an Australian family who use a live tree. This year was the first time I saw an Aussie post a picture of a real cut Christmas tree they were putting up and I suspect this is more because they have only just recently moved back to Australia from England so were probably feeling nostalgic. Real trees just aren’t the done thing in Australia because quite frankly our local pine trees are pretty sad looking (not the nice thick bushy ones you get in the northern hemisphere) and can you imagine a live cut Christmas tree in our Aussie heat? But our Christmas trees are creative. With coloured trees (like white, black, and pink) becoming increasingly popular. Some people even decorate palm trees or gum trees. I have to say a palm tree can look pretty cool in tinsel and with baubles.

Now it just isn’t Christmas without the Christmas day dinner and lunch. The majority of Australians do a cold type lunch and dinner which usually involve seafood, cold meats, salads, and bread. BBQ’s are as close as most of us get to a hot Christmas dinner. There are a rare few families who do the traditional roast dinner but they are far and few between. It is interesting to note that around Christmas our news reports fill up with the price of prawns and their availability because come December the demand and price of them sky rockets and they become rarer then hens teeth.

We normally spend Christmas outdoors at the beach, park, lake, pool, creek/river, bush, back yard, you name it and it’s outdoors an Aussie is probably there on Christmas day. Unless it rains, which in the far north, can be fairly common especially if the monsoon has arrived. In fact I like a good rain storm on Christmas Day as it doesn’t really feel like Christmas to me without it. So being outdoors also involves sport like playing Cricket, Rugby, AFL, Soccer, Swimming, and pretty much anything goes. If you are not playing sport then you are probably sitting on your butt relaxing and drinking your beverage of choice (though you could be playing sport and drinking too). Unless you are manning the BBQ or setting up the table/food but then you are probably doing that with a class/can/bottle of something in your hand anyway. We are great multi-taskers like that.
Finally Santa when visiting Australia does not get boring cookies and milk.

Australia is one of the first countries he visits on his epic one world yearly trip, and it really is hot (I have mentioned that before right?) plus we Aussies like to do things different and spice it up for him. He gets cold beverages such as beer or soft drink (which are the most common but have heard of a chocolate thick shake once).Food wise he gets chocolates, chips (known in other parts of the world as crisps), tim tams (chocolate covered biscuits) and cake, to name a few. Anything goes really, but the junkier the food the better. In my home growing up Santa would get a block of chocolate, Cheese and Onion chips (Crisps) and diet coke. To be honest I would be surprised if Santa didn’t make it out of Australia on a drunken sugar rush. It’s lucky you guys only give him milk and cookies which should help dilute the alcohol and sugar content in his system.

There you have it a rough guide to an Australian Christmas. The only real rule to remember is ANYTHING goes and pack your bathers as you will find yourself in water at some point.

Thanks, Mandy!  So interesting!  Visit Mandy at her blog, The Narrative Causality!

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