Christmas, This is how we ChristmasBlogged by: Wollongong Central03 Nov 2019
The wonderful diversity of the Aussie Christmas
This is how we Christmas
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As Christmas nears, we got to thinking about ‘Christmas Spirit’ and what that means. What we love about our great southern land, is that you don’t need to be part of one culture or religion to celebrate the festive season. All Australians celebrate in their own way (if at all), but the universal language of the Christmas Spirit is a common one.
Family. Friends. Spending time together. Good food. Giving. Sharing. Loving.
Australia is said to be one of the most multicultural societies in the world. In celebration of that, at Wollongong Central, we’ve looked into some of the wonderful and interesting ways different Australians celebrate Christmas and where the traditions stemmed from.
Most of the Christmas traditions we see today come from other countries and cultures. For example:
THE NATIVITY SCENE
Nativity scenes are a huge part of the Italian festive tradition, Naples in particular being famous for nativity cradles. Italian Christmas traditions are based on religious history, predominantly from the Roman Catholic faith. They say the nativity scene was created to bring the meaning of Christmas back to the birth of Jesus, rather than gift giving.
THE CHRISTMAS TREE
The beautiful Christmas tree is in fact said to be a German tradition. In the year 722, it is said that Saint Boniface rescued a boy from being sacrificed at the base of an oak tree. A fir tree then grew in its place and he told the people that it was a holy tree that symbolised eternal life. Modern Christmas trees emerged in Western Germany during the 16th century, when Christians would decorate them with nuts, apples and gingerbread.
Christmas cards first came into existence in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, a senior civil servant who helped set up the first post office. He was exploring ways to get people to use the post office, when it is said that he and his friend (an artist) designed the first card and sold each for 1 shilling. The cards contained the words, "Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends"!
We also looked at how different cultural groups within Australia celebrate the festive season now, inspired by the tradition from their ancestors.
Did you know:
Bulgarians take the most pride in their Christmas Eve dinner. They generally prepare 13 vegetarian dishes, fasting from meat.
For Hindus, Christmas isn’t a traditional festival. Despite this, they celebrate God (regardless of beliefs of shape or form) and still join in festivities with family and friends, some even attending church. A tradition is to gift sweets to friends and neighbours.
Christmas Day isn’t a public holiday in China, however many Chinese still hang stockings, exchange gifts and celebrate with loved ones. A rising tradition in China and in Australia amongst the Chinese community, is said to be gifting apples in brightly coloured paper.
The only middle-eastern country where Christmas is an official holiday is Lebanon. Despite Islam being the predominant faith, Christmas parties are celebrated and time with loved ones is important.
No matter who you are, or how you Christmas, we wish you all a wonderful festive season full of Christmas Spirit.
Sheng Dan Kuai Le (圣诞节快乐)