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Merry Christmas Aussie Style
Six White Boomers by Rolf Harris
Christmas In Oz
Celebrating In The Southern Hemisphere
It's that time of year again when thoughts turn to family and tradition. Sweet memories of Christmas's past surface and blend with the excitement of the coming season.
As any transplanted Aussie will tell you, celebrating Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere is an eye opening experience. To walk into stores and have the Christmas cards actually resemble the snowy landscape outside is at once thrilling and a little disconcerting. For the first time titles to songs such as "Winter Wonderland" and "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas" actually make sense. And to truly grasp why Frosty The Snowman is such an important figure during the holiday season makes you feel like you finally know the answer to one of the mysteries of the universe.
However, no matter how exciting these new traditions are, there are always certain quirky rituals from your homeland that you find yourself pining for. Maybe it is the familiarity of childhood that is calling to you. A time when the only stress in your life was deciding which color pen to write with. Or maybe it is the nostalgic memory attached to a particular tradition that gives you a feeling of closeness to family and friends who are so far away.
Whatever the reason, remembering and honouring these seasonal customs is an important part of the holiday spirit.
A Vision Of Christmas In Oz
While in Australia Santa does not go around dressed in a heavy red suit and black fur lined boots. Would you when the average temperature on Christmas day is 40 degrees Celsius? Instead he prefers thongs, red shorts, a singlet top and red suspenders.
For the Aussie leg of his journey he ditches the trusty reindeer and attaches his sleigh to "Six White Boomers." These 'boomers' are large flying kangaroos that know the Australian bush better than any other animal.
Traditional songs that are sung during the holidays are "Six White Boomers" written by famous Australian's Rolf Harris and his friend John D. Brown. The Aussie version of "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" which includes crocodiles and emus as presents and also the usual array of Christmas carols.
In Australia most places host a 'Carols By Candelight' event. Where everyone gathers outside in a stadium or park and participates in an old fashioned family carolling. Candles are supplied by the thousands and light up the night sky in celebration.
Plastic trees take center stage while traditional tinsel, lights and baubles are hung with the usual colorful splendor. Some families choose to buy silver, pink or multi-colored trees to infuse their living rooms with even more holiday exuberance. The great thing about plastic, as opposed to a live tree, is that they do not require watering. An important point for a country which suffers from constant drought and water shortages.
Wonderful chocolate covered almonds, peanuts and raisins join candy canes as the treats of choice. (Why these delectable goodies have not made it up north is quite the mystery. Maybe it's an Aussie secret that's not meant to be shared. Whoops!)
The Christmas Feast
When Australians sit down to their traditional Christmas dinner the entire spread is eaten cold. That's right! The turkey, chicken or duck (which is still the centerpiece of the meal) is cooked a day ahead and then refrigerated. Along with the bird there is usually a glazed ham, lots of seafood, potato salad, fruit salad and cold cuts. Dessert consists of plum pudding flam-bayed English-style in brandy and then served with creamy custard. (To most Aussies the traditional pumpkin pie served in North America as a dessert is an oddity. The household rule always went "If you eat your vegetables then you get dessert." Since when did a vegetable become a dessert? It had to be a sneaky Mother trying to make her child healthier that invented this tradition. Only my humble opinion.)
After the excessive consumption of food most Australian's either take a nap, go to the beach or participate in a lively game of backyard cricket. Christmas picnics also abound in beautiful parks and public areas everywhere.
So, while we all shiver and light our yule tide logs to warm the heart and hearth, be assured that Aussies are warming their toes in the sun drenched days of summer during this wonderful Christmas season.
Happy Holidays to you all!