Thanks also go to Karen of Empty Nest Expat for her work on Twitter promoting World Blog Surf Day. She will be “tweeting” about each blog participating in the virtual world tour. Karen is an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said, "Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing--and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic."
If this is your first visit to a World Blog Surf Day site, continue on the journey by clicking the link at the bottom of this blog post. And now for my contribution to the third World Blog Surf Day….
What is my favourite holiday or celebration in Australia and why? That is the question posed for the third World Blog Surf Day and one that I found quite difficult to answer, as there are so many holidays and celebrations that I enjoy here. However, I decided that I would write about Christmas with a difference - Christmas in a hot climate...
Christmas in the southern hemisphere is very bizarre. December 25th is at the height of summer but the traditional symbols of a northern hemisphere Christmas are all around. Carols are sung; houses are decorated with snowmen, reindeer and sleighs; tall Christmas trees are filled with warm red decorations; and traditional Christmas cards depict winter scenes. This is all very well when it is freezing outside, but when it's 30 degrees C and you're sweltering in the heat, it seems very strange!
The tradition of Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) is alive and well! You will see him at many fairs and shopping centres in the run-up to Christmas. He always looks cheerful in his traditional outfit despite a very red face!
Even with the trappings of Christmas all around you, it's very hard to get into a Christmas mood when it's hot outside. It doesn't seem right somehow.
Another strange thing is the Christmas dinner. Many of the foods that are eaten in the northern hemisphere are also eaten here at Christmas, such as roast dinners, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake. It's nice that the traditions are kept alive but the weather here isn't really suited to staying indoors and eating a heavy meal.
Many Australians I have spoken to have said that they also find Christmas here to be very strange...and fellow expats find it stranger still. The Snowy Mountains of New South Wales are the only area of Australia in which you can experience a colder Christmas! Also known as the Australian Alps, the Snowy Mountains are the highest mountains in Australia and have an Alpine climate all year round. A fellow British expat mentioned to me that she had spent a lovely Christmas in the Snowy Mountains, eating a traditional Christmas dinner and relaxing in front of an open fire!
But, is it a good idea to deliberately escape the hot weather and seek cold weather in order to celebrate Christmas? Should we rather adapt our celebrations to the climate?
My husband and I first came to Australia on holiday in the 1990s (this was more than 10 years before we moved here). Our Christmas day was spent walking through a wildlife park with kangaroos hopping around and koala bears snoozing in the hot sunshine. We ate in a Chinese restaurant that evening, as it was the only place open on Christmas Day! Although it didn't seem like Christmas, it was a novelty to celebrate it differently.
On the first year that we lived here, we went to the beach on Christmas Day and were surprised to see that not very many people were there. Many of those that did venture to the beach were foreigners, like us. Australians tend to spend Christmas at home with their families, so it was easy to see why there weren't so many people out on Christmas Day.
Last year, as we became more settled here, we also spent Christmas Day at home. We ate lamb with three different salads for our Christmas dinner. It was much easier to digest on a warm day.
I'm not sure what we'll do for Christmas this year. We have thought of going to the Snowy Mountains and having a 'traditional' celebration, or we may decide to stay at home and enjoy the beautiful weather. At least we have the option of being able to celebrate in a more traditional way or of adapting our customs to a different climate.
Now onto a place where it is warm the whole year round. The next stop on the virtual world tour is the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali and the Bali Expat blog. Click on this link to read about holidays and celebrations in Bali.