Why do we celebrate Christmas like we do in Australia?
Australians get into the festive spirit in a variety of ways, but there are some staples of an Aussie Christmas: a non-stop food fest, possibly an outdoor activity and a necessary kip in the afternoon. One senior historian says this style of Christmas has its roots in the mid-1800s, when early settlers longed for home but made do with what they had here. Christmas, as we now know it, dates back to mid-19th century Britain. Queen Victoria, or rather her husband Prince Albert, was responsible for introducing the Christmas tree into England in the 1840s – essentially a German custom. The first Christmas cards were introduced in that period too. Australians started to, from the 1850s onwards, go out into the bush, cut down a big swathe of green leaves, eucalypts or the Christmas bush around Sydney, and tie them to the house, to the roof, veranda posts. The notion of Christmas as a family gathering celebrated around those icons and as a way to celebrating family values, childhood, sentimentality was very much a product of the nineteenth century. It’s not that Christmas hadn’t existed up until that point. There was Christmas sermon in church, but the notion of Christmas as a public holiday only started in the 19th century. Early on, Christmas became part of a holiday season, partly because it’s in summer. Christmas for us is very much about opening into golden days of good food, family and friends.
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