Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Australian Style and a Blog in Review

As I did the rounds of Blogland over the Yuletide season it was fascinating to see all the little cultural differences in the way Christmas is celebrated. I live in Australia so Christmas means summertime and hot weather. Australia is a multicultural country, but our primary Christmas traditions are British in origin so most of us still swelter through a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, albeit with air conditioners running on maximum. Christmas imagery also predominantly features northern hemisphere seasonal motifs. 

My husband and I lived in London for a few years so, believe me, I know what I'm missing when it comes to a northern hemisphere Christmas. There's a certain magic about crisp winter evenings, streets strewn with twinkling lights, and chestnuts roasting on every city corner that we simply can't replicate in December, Down Under, hence the ever increasing popularity of the Christmas in July festivities here.




Australia does have its own customs though, which was something I started to think about as I read many posts about the making of Christmas fudge and sugar cookies, a ritual that doesn't happen here, although shortbread and gingerbread are often served at Christmas social gatherings. The summer heat means that seafood, in some form or another, is on most menus with some people barbecuing outdoors rather than having a formal indoor meal. We also don't do eggnog. Champagne is the primary beverage I would associate with any Aussie Christmas get-together. Also, Christmas happens to coincide with the relatively short cherry season here, so cherries are absolutely synonymous with Christmas in Australia.

Many Australians stick resolutely to the British tradition of Christmas cake (fruitcake) and plum pudding (I personally don't like either of them), but fresh, summery desserts, especially Pavlova, are served at Christmas as well. Pavlova is a dish which originated in Australia and New Zealand, and there is actually enormous controversy and rivalry over which country came up with it first. The dessert was named in honour of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Basically, it consists of a meringue base that has a crisp, fine outer shell, and a marshmallowy centre. The base is then topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I usually top a "pav" with strawberries and/or raspberries, and then sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the top.



I started blogging on May 24, 2011, although in all honesty, blogging was not one of my goals when the year began. The idea just grew organically out of other goals I had, so I suppose that just goes to prove there's something to be said for not being too rigid about resolutions. Sometimes wonderful things just happen serendipitously!

I really love my blog. Anyone who blogs regularly, knows that blogging actually requires a good deal of work, yet despite how busy I usually am, it doesn't feel like a chore. My blog allows me to indulge, or dare I even say wallow, in all the little things I'm enthusiastic about. It's like having my own magazine with total editorial control. Most of all, however, I love the fact that my blog has brought me into contact with some amazing people from across the globe. Yes, I'm talking about YOU! I have made some lovely friendships over the last seven months, and by visiting your fabulous blogs, I have not only been entertained, but also often learned many new and interesting things.

Happy New Year!

20 comments:

  1. Happy New Year! Yes, I'm still around and reading your blog but not writing anything on my own anymore.

    Christmas Pudding is bloody awful and it's one British tradition that I'm glad doesn't exist in America. :)

    For something creepy for this season, check out a song called "The Mistletoe Bough".

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  2. Happy New Year!
    I didn't know anything about Christmas in Australia until I read your post - only that it was in summer.

    Have a great 2012!

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  3. Happy New Year Emma! Your blog has been a delight to read the past year and I'm looking forward to lots more posts! We had pavlova! haha! And banoffee pie too! We're not great fans of plum pud or Xmas cake either. Hope 2012 is a magical year for you. ~Siobhan

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  4. Cool! I was wondering if you would post Australian Christmas traditions. I knew it would be a little different b/c it is summer for you. So, the Christmas in July thing...love it. Although, it would be cool to see what a Christmas would be like in the heat. You know, Merry Christmas from a not so wintery wonderland!

    I've made a lot of new friends blogging too, and I love doing it! Hope you have a great 2012!

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  5. Thank you, Emma for being so entertaining, as well as educational on how it is Down Under!

    It's been nice to get to know you and I do so love your blog. Keep it up, dear!

    Happy New Year... and enjoy your "pav", cheries and champagne!
    ~Lorelei

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  6. As a major fan of summer, heat, sunshine and flip-flops, I do declare I would love Christmas in Australia! The way you describe it sounds wonderful. I'm all for the seafood and barbeques.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  7. Frankenstien, Dracula, and subsequently, The Munsters, and The Addams Family (all in Black and White) were my first concepts of a horror movie. So, I've always loved your site. Happy New Year Emma!

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  8. Happy New Year, dollface!

    I'm so glad you started blogging, and if you threatened to stop I'd fly down there to put duct tape over your mouth. ; )

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  9. Your blog is such a pleasure and a treasure--the way one keeps a blog is developing an online home. I always feel welcome and like I'm "coming home" when I visit. I think I even have a favorite couch to sit upon here. hee hee

    I'm fascinated by your Christmas. I live in Arizona and it's in the mid 70s at Christmas, so we don't get a lot of the weather feel that the north appreciates. I love that cherries are a bit part of your Christmas. I can't think of anything that represents it any better--rare, beautiful, precious, red and sweet! I hope you had a magical holiday. Keep up the awesome blogging work. You are a great "housekeeper" on line.

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  10. Happy New Year!

    It has been a delight reading your blog!

    I find learning about other people's customs fascinating...thanks for sharing yours!

    Cheers to 2012

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  11. Happy New Year, Emma!

    Its always cool to see what others are doing around the world for the holiday season.

    I'm glad you love your blog, I love it as well. :)

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  12. Yum! Yum! Seafood and pavlova sound simply marvellous!

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  13. Hi Dr Blood,

    Happy New Year to you too! I checked out "The Mistletoe Bough". I had never heard the song or the legend before now. It's a little like the British equivalent of the "Frozen Charlotte" story. I don't know that it is technically a cautionary tale of course, but young brides playing hide and seek, then locking themselves in a chest, only to suffocate, does seem a tad ill-advised. Wikipedia refers to the "Legend of the Mistletoe Bough" as a ghost story, although I haven't seen any reference to an actual ghost yet. It's interesting that a number of stately homes in England claim to be the location for the original incident. During 'Creepmas' a few of us were talking about the British tradition of Christmas ghost stories. This legend seems to be another example of that custom. Thanks for letting me know about it.

    Hi Sal,

    Happy New Year! Oh, I'm glad I was able to share something new about Australia with you. :) You have a great 2012 as well!!

    Hi Siobhan,

    Happy New Year! Thank you so much! I enjoy reading your lovely blog as well! How funny that you had a pavlova! I read that Nigella Lawson has a chocolate pavlova recipe so I guess the "pav" is becoming international now. Banoffee pie is yummy too! The only time I've had one was when I was living in London. I'm not that crazy about bananas, generally, but I remember the pie was delicious. Hmmm... you've inspired me to try and make one now. Haha. You're putting a serious kink in my New Year's healthy eating resolution. I'm already craving those choc-caramel brownies on your last blog post. Hope 2012 is a magical year for you too!!

    Hi Annie,

    Thanks! I wasn't sure if anyone would really be interested, but I know I'm always fascinated by the little things I learn in Blogland about everyone's different traditions. I particularly learned a lot during Halloween about all the seasonal events and foods in the US during autumn. I've never done Christmas in July personally, but it sounds fun. A lot of restaurants and mountain resorts put on Christmas in July festivities in Australia.

    Haha. It's extremely hot here at the moment so definitely "a not so wintery wonderland"! And yep, the blog buddies are the best!

    Hope you have a great 2012 too!!

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  14. Hi Vanesa,

    A very Happy New Year to you, as well!

    Hi Lorelei,

    Thank you! It's been wonderful to get to know you too, and I thoroughly enjoy your blogs as well! I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in your world of vampires in 2012! Happy New Year!!

    Hi Elle,

    Oh, if you're a fan of summer, heat, sunshine, flip-flops, seafood, and barbecues, then you would definitely love Christmas here. Sounds like Australia is just perfect for you!!

    Happy New Year to you and yours, as well!!

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you so much! My first horror influences were the same as those you mentioned, and I really want my blog to have that classic, old-school spooky feel. A very Happy New Year to you, too!!

    Hi pensive,

    Hahaha. Nooooooooo.... not the duct tape!!! I'm very glad you started blogging as well. I love our merry little band of misfits!! A very Happy New Year to you too!!

    Hi Autumn,

    Aww... thank you so much! I love that you feel welcome and at home when you visit, and I absolutely do have your favourite couch set aside just for you.

    That's true. There's so much snowy Christmas imagery that it's easy to forget that states like Arizona have much milder winters than the north.

    Yes, the connection with Christmas makes cherries quite special. Like you guys, we have the Christmas decorations in the stores earlier and earlier each year, so cherries have really become more symbolic of the true arrival of the festive season. Actually, they should ban retailers from doing any Yuletide decorating until the first cherries hit the shops. That would be much more civilized! :)

    I hope you had a magical holiday as well, and I look forward to the adventures you have in store for us in 2012!

    Hi Spooky Vegan,

    Happy New Year!

    Thank you so much! I've loved reading your blog as well. You find the most gorgeous gothic images! Best wishes for 2012.

    Hi Zena,

    Thanks! Happy New Year to you, too! And I love your blog as well!!!

    Hi Lady M,

    Haha. Yes, I have to admit, they certainly can be pretty fabulous!

    Actually, I can't get your post about the Champagne and Wild Hibiscus Flowers out of my head. Wildly exotic! If anyone hasn't already seen Lady M's post, here's the link:

    http://ladymhauntedparlor.blogspot.com/2011/12/happy-new-year.html

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  15. Happy New Year Emma! I have learned a lot from you & your country's customs :]

    I look forward to 2012's posts!

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  16. Hi BeWitchy,

    Thank you, and a very Happy New Year to you too!!

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  17. I really enjoyed reading about how Christmas is done in Australia. While most of the country is enjoying cold crispy weather at Christmas time, ours here in AZ is much like yours, warm. I just hope to one day be able to visit Australia.

    I am very happy you started blogging and found my blog. I have enjoyed reading all your posts.

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  18. Thanks so much for the explanation of celebrating Christmas in Australia. Being a Canadian I could only imagine what it would be like in the heat rather than the cold. I think there are pros and cons for both! It has been great getting to know you over the past months, I look forward to many more posts. Happy New Year!!

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  19. Hi Adsila,

    Thank you so much! Yes, I guess you guys in the southern states aren't doing the "winter wonderland" so much either. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I think you'd love Australia. I can imagine you and Sharon on the Indian Pacific train, which crosses the centre of the country through the desert from Sydney to Perth, or in other words, from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Plus, we've got plenty of ghosts here too! :)

    I'm very glad I discovered your fabulous blogs as well!

    Hi art bliss,

    One of my Australian friends was living in Vancouver for a few years and had some lovely snowy Christmases there. You're right though, there are pros and cons for both. The biggest pro I can see for us is that we don't have our Christmas/New Year during the cold and flu season. I've noticed that many of the blog buddies have been unwell lately.

    It has been great getting to know you over the past few months too. I find your blog and your artwork so inspiring! Happy New Year!

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