Um, virtually, that is.
Members of The Swirl World can’t be there in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a first-hand view of what Christmas is like in Australia.
In his last post for 2013, Mike answers the question: “What it’s like to spend Christmas in Australia?”
Ahh, Christmas, there’s nothing quite like it. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, yule log burning in the hearth, snowball fights and hearty roasted meals. A time for slogging through cold weather to reach loved ones, and snuggling up together before a warm fire; sleighs and reindeer, and all that wonderful nonsense.
Well put paid to those ideas because in the Southern Hemisphere it’s Summer time, so that means shorts, t-shirts, BBQ’s, beer and sports for Christmas!
Beach boys: Paul O’Connell, Tommy Bowe and Jonathan Davies strut their stuff at City Beach in Perth. Picture: PA Photo [Source]
There was once a time when Australia felt closest to England, where we tried as hard as we could to emulate their Christmas traditions. So a goose for Christmas, chestnuts, a Yule log (if you were particularly crazy) and a hell of a lot of roast meals. Poor Mums across Australia would have been fainting in the kitchen from all of that heat!
Then as our cultural mix changed, so did our habits. We stopped putting on all the pomp and ceremony, dropped the heavy clobber (clothes) for more utility wear of shorts or jeans and short sleeve shirts, and started eating things more in tune with the season.
Santa still is around in the shopping centres for the kids, but wearing a more loose-fitting lighter red suit. The beard and the hat stays though, so I am sure they’re glad that they’re inside in air-conditioned stores while they work.
Baby, It’s Hot Outside!
This year’s Christmas Day in Perth is going to be 30ºC (86ºF), so you can appreciate why we don’t get as formally dressed up. One year it was 44ºC (111.2ºF), which was hot enough to kill the spiders which used to hide up on the transparent verandah (patio) roof. Thankfully it was too hot to go outside, but we absolutely baked in the heat. I think the East Coasters are going to cop it this year, according to the forecast, which will be interesting as they are nowhere near as acclimatised to the heat as us West Coasters are.
Mike’s Family Traditions
So Christmas foods for us and traditions have to revolve around things more appropriate for summer. This means BBQ’s and seafood for lunch, cold salads and other dishes, and perhaps a small roast meal in there as well (though not as often as before).
My family’s traditions have changed over the years. Mostly it’s the same as anywhere – We all piled into a car to go visiting relatives, eat far too much food, laugh way too loud before piling back into the car to visit another relative’s house.
Families across Australia usually have people over for lunches and dinner, blokes standing around cooking a BBQ and telling tall tales, the kids playing sports or running around with far too much sugar in them, and the ladies sitting and chatting amongst themselves with a nice glass of wine. We’re often very relaxed as to how it all goes.
No Cash? No Problem!
Often people don’t have a lot of cash to spend on holidays away, and to be honest we don’t really need to go that far. 90% of us live on or near the coast, and that means a ton of parks, beaches and other great free locations to go to for the day.
For those who go to a park or the beach (which often happens as it’s a great time to be out amongst other people), several families who might not know each other will get together to play cricket, kick a football around or go swimming. It becomes a communal event, and a great place to meet new people or just have fun outdoors.
The Yugoslavian traditions we used to have meant that in the year a massive gathering was organised, you could count on the most succulent lamb, and pig slow cooked on a spit that you’ve ever had in your life.
This was when a lot of the extended group used to live out in the Swan Valley area, with massive farm blocks the kids could run wild on, and everyone have a great time just catching up with one another. Unfortunately, due to the war back in the 90’s fracturing the Yugoslavian community (everyone is now Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, etc.) and the moving away of family members, it’s not really happened as much since. If there is one thing I would like to resurrect, it’s definitely this style of gathering.
A White Christmas? Not!
I’ve always wanted to experience a white Christmas, but I have to say, being able to get around easily, not deal with inclement weather, and to go outside to enjoy the outdoors or have a swim at the beach or play cricket in the park is an absolute joy at Christmas.
There are definitely times when you wish you had a snowball ready to cool yourself or someone else down with, but for the most part it’s a really wonderful time of year to be having a celebration. The closest analogy I can make is our Christmas celebrations would be much akin to the 4th of July celebrations in the USA. Perfect time of year to be getting out and visiting people, eating way too much and generally having a great time.
See You Next Year
I’d just like to say thanks to everyone here at the Swirl World, especially the hosts Michelle and Adrienne, for the wonderful opportunity of being an Ambassador for Australia to you all. You inspire me greatly and have made me feel very warm and welcomed. Wishing the best for all of you and your family’s this year, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you one and all! I’ll be sending warm thoughts out to you from Down Under to keep those winter chills away! Have a great one and I look forward to talking to you all again in the New Year!
Got questions for Mike? Send them to us via inbox on Facebook or email them to ASwirlGirl@TheSwirlWorld.com.
We’ll be back January 6, 2014 with more Mondays With Mike!
Join in the Fray: Where are you spending Christmas this year?
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