Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest Post: Christmas in Australia

Today I'm very happy to present a guest post by Rhiannon. This is a good one, so don't skip over it! She's from Australia, so she's decided to share some of her family traiditions Aussie-style. If you enjoy this post, be sure to check out her blog too. Now take it away!

When I was little, my parents told my brother and me that Santa Claus came in through the air-conditioning ducts. At the time we lived in Western Australia in the Pilbara district, a notoriously hot part of Australia. So no chimneys. My mum and dad would also put out a bucket of water and a few carrots in the back yard for the reindeers. In the morning the bucket would be empty, the carrot gnawed (courtesy of my father) and there’d be reindeer-shaped hoof prints in cotton wool in the grass.

Incongruous as it is considering our climate, Australians can be reluctant to depart from the northern hemisphere version of Christmas. Fake snow gets sprayed on windows. Cards and decorations are festooned with holly, robins, snowmen and snowflakes. Enormous roasts are served for lunch, the air-conditioning on full-blast.

Christmas falling in the middle of summer has had an effect on some traditions. Rather than carolling door-to-door, ducking inside every other house to warm up with mulled wine and mince pies (which I thought was pretty darned great when I was in the UK), we have carols by candlelight. They’re held on school ovals or some other outdoor space on Christmas Eve, with everyone clutching candles in tinfoil holders and warbling along to Silent Night. There’s usually a picnic, maybe a water slide earlier in the evening, and always mosquitoes. If you live in the suburbs, of an evening everybody goes round the neighbourhood viewing everybody else’s Christmas lights in the front yards.

One of the best (and very few) Australian Christmas films is called Bushfire Moon (1987). It’s set in the 1890s, a time when people clung to the values of the Mother Country regardless of what was sensible or sane. (We’re not that much more sensible these days, as I pointed out above.) A boy mistakes an old miner for Father Christmas, setting in motion a series of events that ends in a heart-warming conclusion. What else? It is a Christmas film! But it’s set against a backdrop of drought, bushfire and sheep that is tellingly Australian.

As well as “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Jingle Bells”, we’ve also got a number of Aussie Christmas carols, the most well known being “Six White Boomers” by Rolf Harris. Boomers are big white kangaroos that pull Santa’s sleigh. The chorus is rather rousing and goes:

Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.
Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
On his Australian run.

There’s also an Aussie version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”:

On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me,
An emu up a gum tree.

And what would Christmas be without a pop-group and their teeth-achingly sweet holiday hit? Yes, Mariah Carey gets plenty of airplay with “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, but we have our very own Human Nature with “Last Christmas”, having a croon as only boy bands can:

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special

Christmas in the middle of the summer holidays is fantastic fun. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, where’s my can of fake snow?


Jade said...

Christmas in Oz rocks. I love having BBQs and going swimming. The flies suck though.

Trollololol said...

Aussie Christmas's are awesome. Big roast lunch follower by a swim in the pool (an hour after eating of course!). I agree with Jade about the flies being annoying though.


Unknown said...

Hi :)
My dream is to visit Australia. Thank you very much for sharing Rhiannon. It was awesome to read about Christmastime in Australia.
Merry Christmas,

Charlotte said...

That was a cool post. I LOVE the Santa surfers ! I would really like to spend Christmas in Australia one day. I'm planning to spend one Christmas in Alaska and the next one in Australia, to try both extremes...! :)

Donna Gambale said...

I arrived in Oz on January 3rd the semester I studied abroad, and they still had Christmas decorations up in Melbourne. I remember thinking it was so strange to see (fake) Christmas trees in 90 degree heat! (Oops... probably closer to 27 degrees!) Thanks for sharing, Rhi!

Cecelia said...

Ah, what a great post! Rhiannon is an awesome blogger, and I loved her take on an Aussie Christmas. I've yet to do a Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, but it sounds like a must. Thanks for sharing!

Alix said...

Sounds wonderful, especially the caroling by candlelight.

So does the Australian Santa come through the air vent as smoke and form into a jolly fat man? Maybe he's related to Dracula!

Rhiannon Hart said...

Alexa--it is a bit Dracula-esque! He can also turn into a bit and sleeps in a coffin, hmm....

Thanks again for having me Alyssa!

Kristen said...

I definitely LOLed at the air duct reference. Too funny. We never had a chimney or fire place. Actually, this is the first year I've had one.. our new apartment rocks. :) Maybe the real santa will finally become real just in time...

Nick Matyas said...

Your comment is very good. Thanks.

Nick Matyas said...

so good