Being from the land down under I’m used to things a little differently, like celebrating Christmas in mid-summer 🙂 I know this sounds a little strange for you Northern Hemisphere readers, but having Christmas lunch outside on a summer’s day was normal to me… but I’d always dreamed of a wintry Christmas!
So I really wasn’t that sad to not be with my family last Christmas when I was in France, because a part of me thought I’d finally be getting a ‘real’ Christmas. After all, Christmas is based on a pre-Christian Pagan celebration of the winter solstice (the shortest and darkest day of the year).
However after spending a whole wintry Christmas in France, I can see there are some pros and cons for either Christmas’.
Summer Christmas – Pros
1. No winter colds
One thing I never thought of when celebrating Christmas on the other side of the globe was that winter time means winter bugs. One of my close French friends was sniffling and flued-up at the Christmas dinner table. Bugs were going around just like it does in Australia – but in mid-June or July. Far from the Christmas season.
2. Healthier Eating
A traditional Australian/New Zealand food to eat at Christmas time is the Pavlova cake. It’s simply a meringue covered with cream and then topped with summer fruit – which is in season in December. We often eat a much lighter Christmas meal by eating a lot of fresh summer fruit, which unfortunately was not in season in France!
3. Christmas Shopping
You guys up north might think Christmas shopping in winter is beautiful, but for me it’s just a pain in the arse. Fighting Christmas crowds through the cold, rain, wind, snow and ice is not my idea of a good time. Then I have to take off a few layers once I’m actually in the store so I don’t start sweating – before I’m freezing again as I go outside. I’d much rather breeze in in a summer skirt and singlet top.
4. Summer Christmas = Summer New Years
This is by far the most important reason for me. A wintry new year is just shit. I’m sorry if you think it’s romantic and all that jazz, but you probably don’t know any better – and that’s not your fault. But I digress… it’s just so depressing to start a new year in winter. I remember all my teachers saying ‘Happy New Year!’ to me once we got back from holidays, all joyful and cheerful while it’s pissing down rain outside… It was so confusing! How do people feel positive about a brand new year in so much darkness? I just felt depressed!
There was no going to the beach for New Years Eve, no standing outside in my summer dress while watching fireworks at midnight while it was still 30 degrees outside. Plus you know that ‘lose weight’ New Year’s resolution that everyone has? It’s a lot easier to make yourself go to the gym in mid-summer than mid-winter. Just saying.
Winter Christmas – Pros
1. It’s made for winter
There’s no denying that Christmas is a winter tradition, it’s about celebrating the light within the dark and the winter solstice. Every symbol from the Christmas trees, to holly wreaths and warm winter foods – it’s all about that colder time of the year.
2. Christmas Food
People are often surprised when I tell them that Australian do not have a barbeque for Christmas, but eat everything that a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas would have. That means roast turkey, root roasted vegetables, gravy and puddings. The only food that would suggest that it’s summer would be the platters of summer fruits and my Mum’s chilled egg nog. I understand that logic would tell you why would you cook winter food during summer? Well… what’s a Christmas lunch without a good roast?
3. Christmas Markets
Oh how I love a European Christmas market! Even in the cold they are magical. Stall after stall selling Christmas decorations, warm red wine and freshly baked goods. True they all sell the same thing but there’s nothing like the atmosphere.
4. Christmas Lights
I remember walking in the Dunkerque city at night when the Christmas lights were up. The contrast of the cold and the ice against the bright glow of Christmas lights made winter not only more bearable but I felt safer and happier walking around outside on a cold winters night.
And the winner is….
Christmas in winter! I’m used to a summer Christmas but there’s nothing like the atmosphere of a wintry one, despite all its impracticalities. Having said that in a perfect world I’d be celebrating Christmas in France, then get on a plane to Australia for a New Years in Sydney. Now that would be the best of both hemispheres 🙂