Christmas is equally as big and equally as obnoxious in Australia as it in the United States. First off, everybody has a party for Christmas. Everybody. Your friends, your other friends, your family, your other family, your company, your department, your team, your veterinarian… Australians don’t need an excuse to party and drink, but when they have an excuse – especially an excuse as big as Christmas – they tend to go all out. December is just one long booze-filled month of Christmas parties.
I’m ok with that, but I will say it’s exhausting. I had our company Christmas party, and our department had a Christmas picnic at a local park, and we did a Secret Santa the week before. Our team at work also went out for karaoke and since someone talked of singing a Christmas song (maybe we sang Mariah Carey’s but I was drunk and can’t remember…) I’m going to contend that it was a Christmas karaoke. Bojan and Charlotte had a Christmas gift exchange party at their house one night and I even co-hosted a Chrismukkah Party with Tara, Simon, Karen, and Elsbeth. It was really a Christmas party but I changed the name to Chrismukkah because I was inviting Jews and because I had a big fight with the Baby Jesus a few years back and I’m still a little bitter. Also, my housemates (except for the awful guy) and I hosted an “Orphan’s Christmas Dinner” the weekend before Christmas (they call it “orphan’s” because so many people in Sydney are foreigners and they have no family here so they are invited to the “Orphan’s Christmas”) and then I ended up at David & Elcid’s for an actual Christmas dinner on the actual Christmas.
Christmas music is equally as annoying here and I don’t even own a radio. Some of the girls at work were blasting it on our Christmas Eve half-day. I put my headphones on and turned up the Martina McBride in rebellion. One of the gay nightclubs played Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” one night when I was out. I was actually ok with that but it did seem a bit strange for a gay club. Then there was the Myer – one of our local department stores (equivalent to Macy’s). I went in one day looking for clothes and a new pot for the kitchen. I had to leave the store twice and work up the courage to go back in because the Christmas music was just too strong that day. Ugh.
There are some strange traditions here. One: everyone goes to the beach on Christmas. Try that shit in New York or Toronto or Chicago or Seattle or Dallas (Dallas is inland so this is actually irrelevant but I say it to make a point). Two: Christmas Crackers. No, they aren’t edible crackers. Christmas Crackers are these paper/cardboard things that you and a friend pull apart and a little firecracker goes off when you split it and then inside there’s a paper crown for you to wear and a little toy. I think the crown is because Jesus was king (what, does he think he was Elvis???) and the toy is because he was a baby and babies love toys. Or something like that. If you want to know ask an actual Australian. I bet they won’t know either. (My housemate, Vicky, said it’s just because crowns are festive. WTF?)
One thing about Christmas – just like Thanksgiving – Christmas is tasty. One: everyone keeps baking and baking and buying chocolate and there was a whole sweets buffet lined up in our area of the office for the entire month. While the Grinch’s heart grew three times the size that day, it was my stomach that did the expanding. Two: they have turkey. Christmas turkey. Turkey is not a prevalent meat in Australia. Cold cuts are rare – and ground turkey at the grocery store is even rarer – and even restaurants usually always favor chicken to turkey on the menu. But everyone gets a Christmas turkey. Unless they have a BBQ. That’s big here too on Christmas.
So yeah, I could keep blabbing about Christmas, but I think pictures are more fun. Our Orphan’s Christmas dinner set up:
Notice the thing on the plate right at the bottom there. That’s a Christmas Cracker. There’s shit inside and it pops out when you pull it apart. For example, David got this lovely red plastic paper clip which he applied as an earring.
And I got a black plastic mustache which clipped onto my nose.
Elcid obviously thought my black plastic mustache was sexy. Oh – and don’t forget the Christmas paper crowns which we’re all sporting! Mine dyed my forehead turquoise or aquamarine or something. Lovely.
Of course we had food – lots of it! Including carrots and peas and pierogi (it’s a Polish thing maybe?) and I of course made my mac n cheese and Elcid made this stunning sweet potato thing with pineapple and marshmallows and brown sugar maybe? Whatever the hell was in it I swear my taste buds were in heaven. Seriously.
And there was Christmas turkey made by my favorite heterosexual Canadian male housemate: Nick! (I could’ve said favorite Canadian, but I think a few people may have been really upset with me.)
And just so I don’t get yelled at tomorrow, here are photos of the hosts and hostesses from our Christmukkah Party a few weeks earlier:
That’s Elbeth and Karen and me and I have no idea what’s going on in that photo. And below we have the lovely Tara and Simon!
(Tara’s the one on the left and Simon’s the one on the right, just in case you couldn’t figure that out.)