Today I’m not teaching grammar or idioms. I’d like to share a bit of Aussie culture with you. Since it’s the Christmas season and it’s celebrated differently all around the world, I’d like to share how we do it “down under” in Australia.
1. It’s not a religious holiday anymore.
Whilst the majority of Australians would label themselves as “Christians”, not many people go to church anymore. Unless they are devoutly Catholic, most Australians do not wake up early on Christmas morning for Mass. We consider Christmas to be family time, and so most of us prefer to be at home on Christmas morning with our families.
2. Carols by Candlelight is a yearly tradition for families.
One of the most enjoyable things about December is attending a Carols By Candlelight concert. Each town holds a concert at dusk (just before sunset), which features local celebrities, music and entertainment. Hundreds of people gather in the park, sit down on the grass with their children to hear and sing all the traditional Christmas songs (called Christmas Carols). Years ago, we used to hold candles whilst singing, hence the name “Carols by Candlelight”. Unfortunately Australia is a little over-regulated now and candles are prohibited!
At the end of the concert, Santa Claus usually visits on stage and reminds the children to be good so he will bring them presents on Christmas morning.
On Christmas Eve, a huge national Carols by Candlelight airs on the TV and finishes early enough for the children to go to bed early.
3. My favourite thing – Christmas lights!
Although I don’t go to church or have kids to make Christmas a traditional celebration, I always take great pleasure in driving around during December, searching for houses that are displaying brilliant and colourful Christmas lights. Many towns have competitions for the best house and the best street. In my city of Melbourne, there is even one special street that the police close off to traffic, and thousands of people walk down the avenue to view each house closely. Ever since I was a kid, my family would get in the car and look for lights together. We even had a little game between us – who could be the first to “spot” (see) a house with Christmas lights. Even though my family is not together, I still play this game with my sister, my brother, or whoever I can! Tonight I played it whilst on the back of a motorbike – very different!
4. It’s a summer occasion.
Like many countries in the Southern Hemisphere and towards the equator, Australia’s Christmas occurs during the summer, and we try to spend some of the day outside. Some people take food as a picnic to a park or the beach. Many people cook their food on BBQs outside in the backyard or in a park. After lunch we love to spend the afternoon playing sports like rugby or cricket. If we are in a park or on the beach, we often merge teams with other families, it’s a great Australian tradition!
Whilst we may not have snow to make a snowman, our sandman is just as fun to make!
Stay tuned for my next post, where I will give you some Christmas vocabulary to practise with your family and friends.