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Midsummer Christmas in Tasmania

Having spent about two thirds of my life in the northern hemisphere and the other third in the southern hemisphere, I’ve gotten used to having Christmas in the summertime. In the northern countries, we not only have Christmas and New Year’s to liven up the cold months, but in some places also Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Christmas carols in the mall by 'Sing Australia'.

Hobart has found a way to help its citizens through the cold months with an ever-increasing collection of soul-warming winter festivals. No need to attach our festive fun to a holiday; the shortest days mean the longest nights, and that is reason enough for a party here in Tasmania.

Summer already has so much going on that it doesn’t really need big holidays to help it along, but December 25th falls decidedly in the warm weather here.

Australia has a multicultural and highly accepting society, but that doesn’t come with the same political correctness here that you get in America. The ads on TV and radio won’t wish you a “happy holiday season”, they will tell you all about their Christmas Sales. Even though I have so many more friends who are religious in America than I do in Australia, it is on this side of the world where I will hear and sing hours more Christmas carols. Not just the Holiday Pop variety either; the traditional ones with a liberal sprinkling of the word Jesus.

For a long time Australians didn’t know how to reconcile this beautiful summer scene with their traditional British visions of a white Christmas. All the decor involves snow, and plants that are either out of season or not grown here to begin with. Even Christmas trees are difficult to keep for long in the hot weather, and lights don’t have the same effect around the longest day of the year. So finally Aussies started adopting their own Christmas imagery, with many celebrations taking place at the beach and featuring Santas in board shorts.

Christmas feasting on a warm summer day.

Forget figgy pudding, it’s an exquisite time in Tasmania for fruit and for seafood. I associate Christmas with crayfish and cherries! And I know what my family will be doing on the day. We’ll gather at my Granny’s house, same as always. Constructing one long table, usually turning a corner to accommodate all the generations, we’ll sit down to a delicious lunch. The table will be covered in delicious Christmas favourites - all cold. Cold cuts of meat, potato salads, fruit salads, shellfish, profiteroles, pavlovas, all the good stuff. Next to each plate there will be a Christmas cracker, which we will partner up to pop. Lame jokes will be read out and enjoyed, multi-coloured paper crowns will be worn by all. After opening presents, the rest of the day will be spent playing tennis and drinking champagne in the sunshine.

Christmas summer bounty in Tasmania.

I love a cold, cosy Christmas, but these summer versions are awfully nice! It’s well worth the experience, if you ever feel like changing up your holiday season. And because it is summer, if you ever find yourself in Tasmania for Christmas, you’ll also be here just in time for the Taste of Tasmania, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Falls Music and Arts Festival, MONA FOMA, Cygnet Folk Festival-the list goes on. So merry Christmas to all, and to all a good…long summer’s day!

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