Monday, 4 August 2014

Why an Aussie Christmas seems, well, just strange

As a family we emigrated to Australia 6 years ago this month and have loved almost every minute. The one thing though that I still can not get my head around is that Christmas is in the middle of summer and it is December. Having a roast when it is frequently in the mid to high 20s (high 60s F), seems well, just strange.
How I like to remember Christmas in the UK. But it really just kept raining
Let’s take a step back in time. My first Christmas memory was getting a bike from Father Christmas, when I was four and not being able to use it on Boxing Day. Why, because the whole of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales was under a blanket of thick snow. So instead of using a bike, I was using the neighbour’s old wooden sledge, down the middle of the street we lived on.

So from a young age I have associated Christmas with snow and cold weather. Or more like the lyrics of Greg Lake’s song, ‘They said there'll be snow at Christmas…But instead, it just kept on raining.’ So with Christmas in July out of the way last month, it was a shock to the system when I got a call from my wife saying it was snowing, last week. Now that is no surprise in itself. But it just doesn’t snow on the Mornington Peninsula (about one hour south of Melbourne, Australia), not at sea level anyway. And in August, that just sent my internal senses slightly into a spin. To add to this, we had a really heavy frost, to the delight of my son. The next best thing for him than snow is walking on the crunch that is frost on grass. Was a joy to behold.

To get around the feeling of everything being upside down, at Christmas, from the first year we arrived, we created a ‘new traditional’ Christmas. So each Christmas we make a day of it in the City (Melbourne). We visit Father Christmas at Myer’s and then the Melbourne must have, the Myer Christmas windows, which are just amazing. And you have to queue. And I mean you have to queue. If you don’t get there early on a Saturday, you are looking at queuing the length of one block. We used to visit the free show at the Crown, but they changed it a few years ago and the new show is very disappointing. On the way home, we then visit the Christmas Bazaar at the Swedish Church in the leafy and wealthy suburb of Toorak. It is set in the lovely grounds of the old British Governors’ house and the sound of Scandinavian languages and smell of delicious food fill the air.

So what do we miss other than family and a good panto. Well bizarrely the wet and cold in the run up to Christmas, one of the things that made us leave the UK in the first place. But that is all forgotten, because there isn’t anything much better than spending Boxing Day on the beach, instead of a drafty British home watching television.

Image Source: Bert Kaufmann via Compfight cc