Friday, December 19, 2003
They're dreaming of a hot Christmas in Australia
When I left for Brisbane, Australia, on Thanksgiving, anticipation for Christmas had just begun. By the time I arrived, two days later, I was mystified as to whether Australian kids would be excited, too. When I stepped off my flight, I was struck by the intense heat — a hot Christmas in this country!
Later, I interviewed a child about Santa (Brienna Jameson, 3rd grade). She said that every year, Santa brings a huge snack and presents, of his choice. It seems that Santa is as big a part of Christmas as in the U.S.
The Christmas meal is often a large lunch as opposed to supper. This meal usually consists of plum pudding, meats (often served cold due to the temperature), and seafood. As Belinda Newbern, a travel agent, says it, "Seafood, lots of seafood." Australians do not all eat on the beach. Some have their relative gatherings at each other's houses.
In fact some people do a sort of "relative round robin." "We go to my or my husband's parents' house for breakfast," said one woman, who calls herself Taz. "Then we visit my sister, and do all the rest of the family throughout the day."
Another slightly noticeable difference is that Christmas commercially begins in November, a week or two after the U.S. "Christmas spree." However, this happens not only with stores. Dressed-up Santas and performers playing Christmas music find their "time to shine" here, too. They are seen outside restaurants, casinos, or are just nomadic.
Australian architecture includes a type of roof that looks like big sails (Sydney Opera House for example). Small gazebos and stages with these roof decorations are common spots for these celebrations and performers.
An interesting little holiday, on the 26th, called Boxing Day, is celebrated different ways. Stated by a seven-year-old girl, "We stay home and do nothing and play with our presents." Stated by a single adult, "We see the races!" For on Boxing Day (although certain children are unaware) horse racing is a major activity in which casino-bugs gamble.
Strange races which take place near Christmas are cockroach races which supposedly (legend) began when two men were arguing in a bar over whose state had bigger, faster roaches.
Although Australia grows thousands of acres of pines, many families use plastic trees assembled to stunning heights (sometimes 20 feet!). Other decorations include stars, crosses and emblems.
However, Christmas is not so religious in this country. In the U.S., Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah instead, and only Christians and those with no religion celebrate it. In Australia, it is a national holiday.
Finally, my trip came to an end. I climbed into the plane for the long flight home. When I stepped off my flight, I was struck by the intense cold — a cold Christmas in this country!
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito