Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas in a Hot Climate

Today, this blog is taking part in the third World Blog Surf Day, a virtual world tour of expat blogs on the theme of holidays and celebrations. World Blog Surf Day has been organised by Czech Off the Beaten Track as a wonderful way of traveling the world at no cost and seeing it through the eyes of the expats who live in each country.

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.


Ivanhoe said...

That sounds so American. Except that hot climate of course. I say you should experience one Australian Christmas up in the mountains. It would be a nice refreshment :)
Happy surfing!

Sezin said...

Fabulous! I've always wanted to visit Australia. Thanks!

Roz said...

Hi Ivanhoe,

Thanks for visiting! I guess a cool Christmas would be nice - I'm not sure if we'll go this year though. The weather has just started to get warm (it's spring now) and we are making the most of it! But of course it might be very hot by Christmas and we might want to escape the heat!!

Best wishes,


Roz said...

Hi Sezin

I hope that you get a chance to visit Australia - it's a wonderful country.

Thanks for visiting,


Anonymous said...

I grew up in Central Florida, so our Christmases could be quite warm, as well. I wore a sundress one Christmas morning. Other times, we'd have a fire burning in the fire place, but we'd also have the front door open to try to let out some of the heat!

Whichever way you celebrate this year, I hope you enjoy it!

Sher said...

Hi Roz,
Great post! And I had something funny happen while reading your post. I had put on some music...and didn't realize it was Christmas music...the Christmas songs began to play as I read your post! :0)

It sounds like you've found the way to adapt to Christmas in a warm climate. Making a choice to want to adapt, and then finding ways to make it work for you--such as new ways to celebrate a holiday--make your new country more your own place. It's at that point that we finally begin to feel more at home in a new place. Really, this applies to moves from one city to another, moving from one state to another, or moving from one country to another.

I can just see Christmas there with all the flowers and birds singing--it has to be beautiful in warm weather, too!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Karen said...

I love the incongruity between the clime and Christmas in your post. Thanks for bringing a unique perspective about a shared holiday.

*lynne* said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
*lynne* said...

Cool entry! One of my early posts at a malaysian abroad talked about the incongruous winter decorations in Malaysian shopping malls around Christmastime; I enjoyed your take on the subject :)

My entry for WBSD this time around is a bit weak, I'm battling a bad cold is my excuse :D


BBE said...

Some very interesting points to consider there. I can't help feeling sorry for all those poor, overdressed, Santas wondering around in the hot sun.


Emmanuelle Archer said...

So interesting that traditional Christmas foods would still be served in spite of the hot weather... I would have expected that a few tweaks and substitutions would have been made to fit the local climater better.

We are so conditioned to associate Christmas with cold and snow that it's hard to get into the spirit when the weather is sunny and mild.

I grew up in a Mediterranean climate, and Christmas would always sneak up on us because of that. It doesn't feel like "the holiday season" when it's balmy out and your windows look on to a row of palm trees!

Have a great WBSD,

Anonymous said...

Having just spent several years in the middle east, I know exactly what you mean about Christmas in a warm climate not feeling "right." But I wonder if I feel that way just because I grew up in a northern climate? If you're born in Australia and move to northern Europe, does snow at Christmas seem odd?

mub said...

I think I'd have a weird time trying to adjust to a hot Christmas as well. It seems to me that altering it to fit the season makes sense, but then I don't know if it would actually feel like "Christmas" to me!

hospitalera said...

Somehow this blog post left me confused, is Christmas really all about food, trees and snow? Was there not actually another "reason for the season"? Just wondering... Somehow we lost the notion what Christmas is actually meant to be, completely independent of the climate we live in, SY

PS I am blogging from for WBSD, your blog doesn't allow me to leave my url ;-(

leigh said...

I don't celebrate Christmas myself, but I have developed my own holiday traditions. My favorite when in NYC was to wake up early and wander the streets as people were just waking up, eating breakfast, opening gifts. You can hear it all clearly on the cold, empty sidewalks. Very peaceful.

Our last two Christmases were spent in warm climates, and I have to agree, there is something odd but really lovely about it.

Here's to new traditions all around!shal

Emm said...

Ha! It sounds just like our South African Christmases! We used to barbeque some meat or have cold meats and salads, swim, tan and then all have an afternoon siesta before starting all over again on Boxing Day. I used to host a Boxing Day Brunch every year which consisted of sunburn and champagne.

hospitalera said...

Update: I had to move my WBSD contribution to and unfortunately lost all the comments, my apologies to everybody that took the time to leave a comment and can't see them anymore, SY

hospitalera said...

Roz - My apologies for being a few days late visiting all the WBSD blogs. I'm concentrating first on those like you, who have visited my blog & left a comment. I understand all that you describe having lived in Australia from 1970-75. I spent most of my time in Hobart, Tasmania and Christmas Eve 1972, snow fell on Mount Wellington even though the previous week, I'd been swimming in the sea! That year, I did eat my Australian Christmas dinner in front of a roaring fire! However, what happened that year was a very rare & peculiar occurence, even for Tasmania.

Chaplain - Ricky using my wife's Google A/c as I don't use blogspot and therefore cannot otherwise leave a comment!

Anonymous said...

I find it so hard to imagine Christmas in the heat! Hope you are all doing well!