The end of November rings jingles in my ears – every year, no matter where I am. I hum along Christmas Carols and watch Christmas specials over the Holidays. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be on both sides of the Hemispheres during Christmas and would like to share the best experiences of both worlds.
My first white Christmas was when I was ten years old. The magic of snow bewitched me as I walked to school in half a feet snow covered sidewalks. At school, in the cozy warmth of our classrooms ( of a few hundred years old public school) we decorated with dangling paper snow flakes, tinsels, Christmas trees and shared gingerbread cookies and Christmas cakes. At recess, we’d run around the school grounds playing snow-tag and making snow angels.
I remember a Christmas special field trip to St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal where I first came to know the religious significance of Christmas. Montreal’s streets and houses came to life with neons and twinkling lights, tinsels, wreaths, Frosty the snowman against the odd white snow clad background. Santa Claus of various shapes and sizes would Ho! Ho ! Ho! around with bells in their hands, casually heaving their belts up from dropping. At home, I’d sit tight with a cup of hot chocolate dipped in cinnamon stick watching A Christmas Carol, in every possible adaptation possible. I’d have to admit, television (yes, ten something years ago we’d have to wait for a favourite TV show and get popcorn during commercials) had to do a lot with me joining the Christmas fandom. Most of my Holidays would pass watching Christmas specials of my favourite shows and movies. Christmas never felt complete without watching Home Alone 1,2,3 – I have lost count!
It was a sad day for me when someone told me a very hard truth. No, I’m not talking about questioning the existence of Santa Claus! I came to know the image of our beloved Father Christmas aka Santa Claus riding on a sledge pulled by a team of reindeers Rudolf the Red Nose had been a Coca Cola marketing campaign. I’d hate to think that the charms of Christmas had been fuelled by a soda company, so, to restore my faith in colourful tales , stories and poems I used to head to the library (Google owners were still at highschool at that time) and found out that the origins of Santa Claus was a historic figure: one Saint Nicholas , Bishop of Myra who is remembered as an anonymous gift-giver to children.
My first Australian Christmas was a bit of a surprise. Firstly, the scorching heat in December! My thoughts were, how would Santa survive here! I’ve heard after sorting gifts for little children all over the world, Santa comes to the land Down Under and changes from his red-suit to comfy summer cloths and thongs. His reindeers rest for a bit while our Kangaroos take over the noble task. Along with the traditional Christmas Tree, we also have our own Christmas bush, a native Australian tree with small green leaves and red flowers blooming usually around the Christmas week. I’ve joined friends for Christmas dinner to enjoy festive cold turkey sandwiches and salads in the parklands and a nice swim at the sunny beaches.
South Australia have been welcoming Christmas with it’s famous Christmas Pageant since 1933. Sir Edward Hayward, owner of John Martin’s Adelaide departmental store began the first pageant on 18 November 1933 during the Great Depression with 8 floats and three bands. I know Kazi had a bird’s eye view of this Christmas pageant from his unit back in the uni days and I’ve been holding a grudge against him since (Shhh…he doesn’t know that). Another of Adelaide’s pleasant surprise are the appearance of a giant Father Christmas at Rundle Mall and invitations to the Magic Cave for children to see Father Christmas , magical elves and many other fairy tale characters. Adelaide CBD is adorned with baubles, tinsels and decorated Christmas tree and bushes – as the festive season approaches. This year too, despite the Victoria Square re-construction, the iconic Christmas tree stands tall. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to come across the Christmas Lights display at West End Brewery Riverbank . The Riverbank near Port Road twinkles with lights , pageant floats, novelty vans and the air is filled with a carnival – like aroma of caramelised sugar from food and drinks stalls.
My nostalgia ends for now. Hope you enjoyed the read about my magical experiences around this time of the year. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, belated Eid Mubarak, and belated Happy Diwali to everyone around the world