Christmas in Peru, Australia, Dominican Rep and Austria!

Nativity scene from Peru, made of carved gourds
Nativity scene from Peru, made of carved gourds

Xmas in Lima, Peru

I was born in Lima, Peru, which is in the southern hemisphere, so Christmas came at the end of the school year and start of our summer holidays! We used to have three months until school started again and we used to spend it mostly going to the beach to enjoy the sun and surf. Lima had only two seasons really, with the maximum temperature reaching about 28° in summer and around 10° in winter. It never rains in Lima, but because of the cold Humboldt Current, the skies in Lima are mostly overcast, especially in winter, and it is so humid that sidewalks are wet, even though it has not rained! It is that humidity that makes the temperature feel colder than it really is. Our fruit and vegetables used to come either from the north of the country, where it is warmer, from the mountain areas, or from the Amazon region. We always had plenty of oranges, bananas and no shortage of tropical fruit, but stone fruit and apples had to be imported from neighbouring Chile.

Mt Wellington with a sprinkling of snow. Hobart, Tasmania.
Mt Wellington with a sprinkling of snow. Hobart, Tasmania.
Fancy red apples from Tasmania
Fancy red apples from Tasmania

Hobart, Tasmania - Australia

My family then migrated to Australia, where they also celebrate Christmas in summer, but the problem was that we went to the island of Tasmania for the first year and it can get cold there! It was not unusual to see a sprinkling of snow on Mt Wellington and we used to live in Mt Stuart, which was one of the foothills! Heavy trucks loaded with apples from the Huon Valley used to go past our house on the way to port and that always reminded me of the earthquakes we used to get back home! In addition to the many varieties of apples, which we use to buy for AUD $1.00 a case, we could also get peaches and apricots, which I had never tried fresh before, only canned ones.

Tropical fruit basket
Tropical fruit basket
Gold Coast beach
Gold Coast beach

Xmas in sunny Queensland, Australia

After a year of enduring the cold in the south of the country, the family moved north to sunny Queensland! That area was famous for its beaches, but also for its tropical fruit (pineapples, mangoes, papaws and melons)! The temperature in summer could easily get to 30° or more, but we did not complain, as we could go swimming in Surfer’s Paradise! One needed a sweater or jacket in the evening in winter, but during the day it was usually sunny and warm. As Australia is such a big country, one could always get all types of fruit and vegetables and artificial Christmas trees did not bother us, as that is what we were used to having. Going barefoot was the norm and that was the way my brothers used to go to school.

Dried bush stems painted white for Christmas, so as to recreate a frozen one.
Dried bush stems painted white for Christmas, so as to recreate a frozen one.

Dominican safari for Santa!

Xmas in Santo Domingo, DR

After a few years in Australia we left again, but this time we went to the Dominican Republic, an island in the Caribbean! In the capital Santo Domingo one could easily get fruit in every corner of the city just about, but if one went to the countryside then one could get mangoes or lemons by the bucketful! Dominicans always had such beautiful, sweet and juicy fruit! It was possible to find apples too, but only at Christmas time, as they imported them from California then.

The DR is in the Northern Hemisphere, so Christmas falls in winter. People in Santo Domingo used to complain about the “freezing” weather then, even though it was 18°C! People wore long sleeves in winter and short ones in summer. It might be necessary to wear something light if one went to the Malecón (seaside) after a New Year’s Eve party, for example, but one does not really need any sweaters, jackets or blankets otherwise. Mittens and scarves are unknown and simple flip flops will do most of the time.

One year I visited my mother in Canada, where it was autumn at the time, and as I had many young nephews in SD, I thought I would collect leaves to bring back to show them. All those coloured leaves had looked so nice in British Columbia, but what I did not realise at the time was that it is the light shining on those leaves that makes all the difference, so my big idea was a flop!

Graz Farmers' Market
Graz Farmers' Market

Graz, Austria

Everything changed though when I got married and moved to Austria, the country where my husband's comes from! For the first time in my life I was living in a place that actually had the four seasons! What I had not realized before is that the seasons don’t only affect the fruit and vegetables one eats, but also the clothes and shoes one wears, the activities one carries out, the sports one plays and even the tyres in one’s car!

I love it in summer when one can buy fresh strawberries, apricots peaches and plums in the market, or in autumn when the new season apples and pears arrive, as well as the kurbis (pumpkin), walnuts and hazelnuts. And then in winter one can also buy paper cones of roasted chestnuts to warm ones hands, while one drinks warm gluhwein! Mmmmm!

I also love to go for walks in the forests, where one can collect berries in summer, different kinds of mushrooms in autumn and then cut a real pine tree at Christmas time! Suddenly the artificial snow one used to buy for the tree seems so ridiculous, as the real thing is so much better!

Four Seasons poem

Author: Lisa A. Marchesi, USA

In comes the leaves of Fall
So beautiful it will enthrall
Wonderful red, yellow and brown
Mother Nature should wear a crown
Then comes the snow
And the streets are aglow
With children playing like animated dolls
Then suddenly Spring calls
April showers may come down
Just when you are walking downtown
Along the beach the tide is high
As all the children walk by
Soon it begins to get hot
Now Summer we've got
Sometimes you can feel the sun's rays
Heating up through the humid haze
The circle goes round and round
Four Seasons we are bound

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