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Some True Blue Aussie Christmas Traditions

Christmas would have to be my favorite time of the year. I remember my white Christmases in Europe as a little girl. There was the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and gingerbread biscuits, and my parents drinking eggnog as we decorated our tree. Snow glistened outside and groups of children with their lanterns alight could be heard singing Christmas Carols as they moved from house to house in exchange for chocolates and sweets that residents would throw out their window. That’s when the mad scramble began trying to look for sweets in several feet of snow. I sometimes yearn for those magical, mystical years and reminisce especially when I listen to Bing Crosby’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. Our way of compensating for the lack of cold weather in December is by having Christmas in July celebrations with all the trimmings including weather close to that of the northern hemisphere (well almost – anything north of the Tropic of Capricorn hasn’t been included, sorry). In Australia many of us still write cards with snow and ice scenes, people ice-skating on frozen lakes and pictures of cute reindeers. Not only would Santa melt from the heat wearing his red winter woolies, his reindeer would die of heat exhaustion working in such sweltering heat! No reindeers and sleighs for us – we have ‘six white boomers’ (boomers: large kangaroos) thanks to a song by Rolf Harris from the ‘60’s. I’ve seen our Santa pulling a surfboard wearing sunscreen, board shorts and hat, zipping through the southern skies. Yes – he’s our man! A far cry from the drunk Santa I remember riding in the back of a ute (ute: utility vehicle) in the country many years ago. Last seen swigging on a long neck (long neck: tall bottle of beer) trying to articulate “ho ho ho and a Merry Christmas to all” as the ute slowly drove down each street in my neighborhood. Carols by Candlelight are a tradition ‘down under’ during the weeks leading up to Christmas at many venues around towns and cities of Australia. Christmas lunch here in this great southern land is a different experience. As Christmas Day closes in the temperature continues to rise as does the humidity here in Brisbane. You know Christmas is here when you start hearing the continuous shrill sounds of cicadas (large winged insect) on hot, cloudless days. I know many still insist on cooking the turkey, other roasts as well as roast vegetables and gravy in the stifling heat (I did until recently), as well as fruitcake and custard. Not everyone has air conditioning here so a cool breeze is often top of the wish list. So what is a traditional Christmas lunch down this way?

1. Prawns (prawn: shrimp) for the barbecue – on ice and with lemon wedges;

2. Fresh Fish from the market – arrive very early (if you’ve never had this experience before you’ll know what I mean when you do);

3. Tossed green Salad, bowl of beetroot with onion, and some asparagus;

4. Snags (snags: sausages), lamb chops – lamb cutlets if you can afford it;

5. For ‘afters’ (afters: after lunch) Beach towel, togs, thongs, sunscreen, cricket bat and ball (thongs: cheap rubber open sandals, togs: bathing costume);

6. An esky full of beers (esky: receptacle to place all alcoholic drinks – on occasion you may get lucky and find room for other items but don’t get too excited);

7. A few bottles of drink coolers for the girls;

8. Wine for the more refined;

9. More beers for the esky; and


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