Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Writer's World - Christmas DownUnder Style - Annie West

It's that time of year again. Christmas! I love it. This year we have a visitor from overseas staying with us for a few weeks, and it's making me think about our Australian Christmas traditions and how they vary from elsewhere in the world.

The thing that struck me, talking with our guest, is that here our traditions are varied and fairly fluid. Being a 'young' country in some ways - we've only been celebrating Christmas down under for a bit over 200 years, we've imported many Christmas traditions. On the other hand, as we have so many Australians whose families originally came from elsewhere - all over the globe - those traditions vary.

As a result some strong Christmas traditions can be fairly recent and vary enormously from family to family. For instance in our house we have a big Christmas Day lunch with all the family (or as many as we can get together). The food definitely has a British flavour - roast turkey and glazed ham, roast vegetables, hot fruit pudding with custard for dessert, and of course all the extras like shortbread and fruit mince pies, nuts and sweets.
Home made Christmas goodies

Friends of mine always cook their big roast dinner on the barbecue. Others have fresh seafood and salad. In the days before Christmas you'll see the seafood stores doing a roaring trade. Still others I know opt to get into the Christmas spirit with a big Christmas brunch and champagne and forgo the cooking later in the day.

Christmas Day picnics and barbecues seem to be becoming more popular too, with people taking advantage of the summer weather to celebrate. And it's the time of year when our stone fruit is ripe so for us Christmas means cherries, plums and apricots. Delicious!

Yes, we have Christmas trees Down Under, but given our climate most people have synthetic ones rather than living trees like this one. You'll find some streets lit up with Christmas lights on houses in December and many more without an extra bulb.

There are houses where food is left out for Santa on Christmas Eve but also homes where gifts are opened on the 24th rather than the 25th. Yes, there are midnight Christmas Eve church services and Christmas Day ones. There are carols by candlelight in parks too.

One tradition that always makes me smile is that in rural areas I know Santa comes to visit just before Christmas on the local bush fire brigade truck - all in red and sweltering hot. He gives out sweets to the kids (and the adults) and will often accept donations to the local brigade of funds or beer.

Street parties in the lead up to Christmas are popular too - don't forget it's summer here and the weather is terrific (if it's not scorching). And Christmas leads into the summer holidays for us. So try to imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving and summer holidays all rolled into one and you'll get the idea. Boxing Day (26th December) kicks off the massive Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which keeps us enthralled for days. Plus it sees the beginning of the Boxing Day Test Match - an international cricket match played Down Under. Test Matches go for 5 days usually and the days after Christmas are often filled with the sound of cricket balls being smacked around the pitch and the drone of the commentators, as many houses have the cricket on TV.

Alternatively, for many Christmas is the time when the family gets outdoors together - playing cricket in the local park or hitting the beach to cool down. This photo was taken in winter. Around Christmas the beach would be packed with people.

How about you? Do you have a favourite Christmas tradition? One that's been passed down through the family for generations or maybe one you started yourself more recently? Or maybe one you've heard about and would like to adopt? How will you be spending Christmas?

Annie is thrilled to say that her next book is out soon. CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT is a March release in the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Here's a taste:
Out of the limelight... 
Domenico Volpe has been a paparazzi target for years with his rugged Roman looks, glamorous lifestyle and, most recently, a family tragedy. Now that the woman at the center of it all is released from prison, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her quiet.  
And into the fire! 
Domenico ensures that Lucy Knight "accepts" his offer of refuge on his well-guarded offshore estate. While the media furor abates on the mainland, things are heating up on the island! Domenico is beginning to doubt Lucy's guilt as he uncovers the innocent, sensual woman behind the tough facade....

For more details, visit Annie's website or you can order it here - it's available from 19 February.


5 comments:

  1. Happy Christmas, Annie and all the Pink Hearters. I've had great fun swinging by the blog this year and seeing all your wisdom laid out for my delectation. A bit like Christmas dinner all year, really. Annie, love the blog and the pics. So glad you have such lovely Christmas traditions. Our family does the big Christmas lunch and then all lying around in a coma all afternoon complaining about the heat. And then maybe a swim if people can shift the few feet out to the pool. Santa needs a bikini when he comes to Australia!

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    1. Anna, I know what you mean about lying around after the meal and wanting to do nothing more than swim. It's once a year though and such a treat!

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  2. Hope you had a very Merry Christmas. One of our family traditions is celebrating Christmas complete with stockings, presents and a big turkey dinner on BOXING DAY at my sister's farm. This tradition started when her mother in law was in a nursing home and the family went to spend time on Christmas day with her. My sister has 5 kids so rather than make them choose where to spend Christmas every year she decided to keep on with the Boxing Day celebration.

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    1. Kaelee, what a lovely way to spend Boxing Day.

      Thanks so much for the good wishes. We had a wonderful Christmas (and it's still continuing). I hope your celebrations are special this year too!

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