Australians Have Holidays Too

A couple of days ago I blogged about why I hate Halloween in Australia. You may have read it. If so, you’re note alone. Over the last 48 hours, that post has risen to be the second most viewed post on this blog.

I feel a bit like a small-time celebrity.

That feeling was reinforced yesterday morning when I awoke to find a message from the producer of ABC Radio Perth asking me to contact her. I gave her a call, and she said that she’d read my blog, and enjoyed the voice of my writing. Then she asked if I would be a guest on the 720 ABC Radio Morning Show with Geoff Hutchison to talk about Halloween and my views on why Australians shouldn’t go trick-or-treating.

No prizes for guessing my answer.

Interesting facts about “appearing” on live radio via phone:

  • Even though no one could see me, I still put on make-up and made sure I was dressed in something more impressive than my PJs.
  • I spent most of the three hours between agreeing to be a guest and actually “appearing” doing intensive research. Of random facts. That had nothing to do with what I was going to talk about.
  • I spent the remainder of those three hours contacting my family and friends to tell them I was going to be on the radio.
  • When the time finally came… it was actually very easy. I was just having a conversation with a man on the phone, who was asking me about my experiences and opinions. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s stating my opinion!
  • All that aside, when I finished the conversation, all I wanted was a glass of wine. To celebrate. Yeah, that was it.

It was a great experience. And if any other radio producers are reading this blog, I’m available for sharing my thoughts and opinions whenever you like.

But on to the topic du jour…

Quite a few people commented on that earlier post about how sad it is that Australians don’t celebrate Halloween, because it’s such a great holiday. (And you won’t find any arguments from me, as I mentioned.) But it occured to me that, much as you may not have realised that Australians don’t celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Presidents Day, etc. etc. etc., you may not know much about the holidays that we do celebrate.

Allow me to enlighten you.

1st January: New Year’s Day — Generally spent recovering from  hangover, and then hitting the beach/park/great outdoors for a barbecue, some more drinks and a game or two of cricket or volleyball.

26th January: Australia Day — This is where we celebrate all things Australian. People display the Aussie flag, bake Anzac cookies, and get together with family and friends in the great outdoors for a barbecue, plenty of alcoholic beverages, and a game or two of cricket or volleyball.

April: Easter Friday – Sunday —  Ostensibly a Christian holiday, Easter is often observed as a time to go on a family camping trip to the great outdoors. For those who can’t get away for the entire holiday (which also falls in the middle of school holidays), at least one or two days are taken up with a barbecue, heaps of drinking, and a game or two of cricket or volleyball.

25th April: ANZAC Day — This is the day that we celebrate the sacrifice of the Anzacs in World War 1, and the service men and women who fight for Australia in general. The morning is taken up with veterans and current soldiers marching through the city streets, surrounded by well-wishers cheering them on. There are speeches and medals and music. At lunch time, everyone disperses to the pub, where there’s a traditional barbecue, drinking, and possibly a game or two of cricket or volleyball.

June: Queen’s Birthday — Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a holiday to commemorate the Queen. Apparently. Really, it’s the last long weekend of the year and happens just before winter hits in full force. So it’s last chance to either go camping, or head into the great outdoors for a barbecue, plenty of drinks, and a game or two of cricket or volleyball.

Labour Day — This holiday falls in a different month in each state/territory. (Fortunately we only have 6 states and 2 territories. If we had more than 12, we’d be in trouble.) I don’t really know what the point of it is. Generally, people use it as an excuse to get drunk, have a barbecue and play some cricket or volleyball.

November: Melbourne Cup Day — The Melbourne Cup: the Race that Stops the Nation. (Although it’s only the Victorians who get a day off work for it. So you’re lucky if you’re one of those 25% of Australians.) If you have no idea what that means, let me explain. It’s a horse race. At 3:10pm on the first Tuesday of November, there’s the biggest horse race of the year. Traditionally, this is celebrated with a breakfast of chicken and champagne, followed by the ritual of donning your best clothes (plus a hat for the ladies), having a “flutter” on the horses, and drinking all afternoon. Even if you’re one of the 75% of people who still have to work, everything stops for the race. And good employers provide champagne for their employees.

25th December: Christmas Day — Celebrated either with a hot roast lunch (despite the sweltering temperatures) or a barbecue. It’s mandatory to have a nap after lunch if you’re over 30, and then the evening is full of eating leftovers, plenty of drinking, and maybe a game of cricket or volleyball.

26th December: Boxing Day — Food. Drinks. Cricket (either on TV or in reality). Drinks. Board games. Drinks. Barbecue dinner. Drinks. And then a few drinks to round things out.

So, there you have it. As you can clearly see, we Australians have a vast array of holidays, and celebrate them all in our own inimitable fashion. What do you think — still feel bad that we don’t have Halloween?

Disclaimer: I don’t condone binge drinking, I just say it like it is. Also, other Australians may have different ways to celebrate these holidays. I welcome comments and alternate viewpoints.

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16 Comments

Filed under Opinion

16 responses to “Australians Have Holidays Too

  1. “…A barbecue, some more drinks and a game or two of cricket or volleyball.”

    I sense a theme here.

    To be sure, I’m sure there are many Americans who celebrate our holidays in much the same way (replace “cricket or volleyball” with “[American] Football or Baseball”) – but for myself I’m not a big sports fan, and I’m a teetotaler, so my own celebrations tend to avoid those two elements.

    And congrats on the radio appearance! That’s pretty cool.

    • Thanks – the radio appearance was pretty awesome. 🙂

      There’s definitely a theme to Aussie celebration. But in saying that, I know a couple of people who don’t drink (yes, 2 people out of the probably thousands that I’ve met in person throughout my adult life) and they still manage to enjoy said celebrations without alcohol. And being a sports fan isn’t really all that important. I’m not a sports fan either. But at least once a year, I find myself engaged in an ad hoc game of cricket with family/friends. I guess the benefit of cricket is that you can play it just about anywhere, as long as you’ve got at least 2 people — one to bowl and one to bat. And, of course, you can do it with a drink in your hand if you’re so inclined. 🙂

      However there are plenty of people that trade sports for playing board games, especially in hotter weather when you just don’t want to do anything. Especially around Christmas in Queensland (where I live). Christmas and Boxing Day are generally well over 40 degrees — that’s over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. With about a 75% humidity or greater.

  2. How awesome that you were on the radio! 🙂 I think it’s so amusing to me, as an American who lives in the northern part of the country, that so many of your holidays involve barbeques! I certainly will NOT be outside on December 25th!!!!! OR New Year’s. 🙂

  3. Momma Be Thy Name

    Way to go! 🙂 So excited for you!

  4. Radio! Cool! And how wonderful that the radio folk found you through your blog.

    And holidays–Is (was? I’m not too sure of the time difference) today the big race day? Sounds a bit like the Superbowl here, which is on a Sunday afternoon/evening, no doubt for good commercial reasons. Racing doesn’t rouse the same passions as football (American version) in the U.S.

    Although I was a little girl in snowy Wisconsin, I’ve lived most of my life in warm climates (Florida, Louisiana, and now Texas), but I still can’t quite wrap my brain around Christmas in the middle of summer (although that’s surely closer to the original than our mythical White Christmas).

    • I know, right? I was stoked that a radio producer contacted me after reading my blog. It was like hitting the big time. 🙂

      Yes, Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day. It’s funny because, although racing is obviously a sport, Cup Day isn’t really seen as a sporting holiday. We’ve got our football grand final days (there are 3 football leagues/types in Australia), and our Cricket World Series and Ashes, and various other sporting events — although nothing quite as full on as the Superbowl. But Melbourne Cup is really more about the fashion, the dressing up (albeit in fancy clothes and hats, which I suppose are a costume in their own way) and the pageantry of the day. The rest of the year, most of us don’t care about horse racing.

      I have to say that I LOVED my two white Christmases in St Louis as a kid. But Christmas in summer feels more normal to me, because that’s what I’ve always known. But Christmas as a holiday is actually just the renamed heathen festival Yule, which was a mid-winter celebration. During Yule, evergereen branches were taken into homes and decorated, food offerings were left out for gods, and lights were put on living trees as sacrifices to the Gods of nature. Animals were slaughtered and shared with the community, and the mead/ale flowed freely. The whole purpose of Yule was to beseech the Gods to allow summer back into the world. So, really, celebrating it in the middle of summer makes no sense whatsoever. You stick with your winter holiday for the “real” (or, at least, original) meaning of Christmas.

  5. Congrats on the cool media score! I’d love to spend Christmas in Australia one year. Or maybe several years. Sounds so nice compared to the dark rains here.

    • Well, if you need a place to stay…

      Yes, that’s right. I’m inviting you to contact me if you want a place to stay in Australia so you can experience a hot Christmas. Yes, I’m serious. I’m just crazy like that.

  6. ava

    Congratulations on the radio interview! In the Philippines, we have a lot, and I mean seriously a lot of holidays. I’d probably write about it.

  7. Congrats on the radio interview! That sounds like a lot of fun. Any chance the audio’s available online somewhere?

  8. We get Anzac cookies here in India, and I love them. I didn’t know the story behind them though

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