Christmas in Australia, like much of the culture and man of the cultural events here, is a weird little hybrid mix of traditions.
The weather makes a habit of hitting the mid 40s on Christmas day itself, and yet a healthy chunk of Australians, labouring under our European ancestors’ traditions, go full formal feast with hot turkey and gravy, followed by puddings draped in warm custard.
Some Aussies opt out of this, hit up the beach, and sup on seafood and salads. Others still, like my family (who enthusiastically embrace all cultural variations, especially when it comes to eating), just scoff down a bit of everything.
As kids, we sing about Frosty the Snowman, and about Dashing through the Snow. Sometimes, however, we change it up a bit and dash through the sand instead….
(‘Dashing through the sand, in our bathers and our thongs,
Rejoicing in the sun, singing Christmas songs….’).
Meanwhile, Santa, traditionally decked in fur and velvet and found in his native habitat of an air conditioned shopping centre, is sometimes featured on cards and in folklore as a flip-flopped, board-short-wearing man, who swaps out reindeer for huge white kangaroos when he travels across the Aussie bushland.
When it comes to the tree, our shops are filled with pines and firs, but all of them are plastic. Some are covered in fake snow, and many are adorned with icicle lights and decorative snowflakes, although these are things that are never seen in Perth, even in the darkest depths of winter.
My folks tend to go in a slightly different direction with their Christmas.
Here’s their recipe for a thoroughly native Aussie tree.
First, wrangle a grevillea branch into your living room. Feel free to substitute with a hakea or eucalypt if you don’t have the grevillea on hand.
I’ll be honest, you’re going to need to truss that thing up, because the second it’s cut, it’s going to droop.
Add something shiny…
…add some fluffy decorations….
… add some furry critters…
^This is not a real decoration. This is a sticker of a cat. For some reason, my father is emotionally attached to it, and felt that it should go on the tree.
^Flying sheep. Why of course!
…add some lights*….
And there you have it…
But a pretty one at that.
Hope that everyone else is enjoying the build-up to the festive season!