23 December 2006

Australian Christmas in the community

Phew! Now I can sit down and post about the way Australia handles Christmas and the so-called "War on Christmas" that seems to be an annual event in the US.

There is no war on Christmas in Australia.

No-one threatens to sue anybody over a Christmas display or demand equal time for their real or imagined celebrations. When an over zealous public official or council tries to make Christmas bland or totally "Politically Correct", they are soon shouted down or encouraged to grow up.
Almost every store has decorations for Christmas including trees, tinsel, various Santa Clauses, nativity scenes and banners. Local councils have street based decorations to encourage the joy of the season. In the top photo taken in George Street, Sydney (the most central street) you can see the Sydney City Council's red and green banners proclaiming "Merry Christmas" and "Peace and Goodwill".
The lower photo was taken in one of the malls I traverse from the hotel to my city based client. They have installed all these Christmas balls and the ceiling lights continually change colour. There is tinsel in the walkways and stores and a number of very nicely done nativity scenes in shop windows.
Almost everyone you meet will leave you the passing "Merry Christmas". Even Buddhists and Muslims wish you a Merry Christmas and those that don't follow any Christian faith still plan to participate in the joy of Christmas and get together with their families. We have both Christmas day and St Stephen's day ("Boxing Day" - Dec 26th) as public holidays.
As Australians don't celebrate "Thanksgiving" as a separate holiday, Christmas is the time of gathering as a family and giving thanks for the year that is almost past. As it is the middle of Summer, everyone is in fine holiday spirit, eating plenty of food, playing backyard cricket and other enjoyable activities with the family.
We give thanks that Australians are generally very tolerant of other's beliefs and there is no offense taken because one group of people is having a holiday. After all, why should I get offended or upset because Jews celebrate Hannukah at a time we don't have a celebration, or someone is enjoying a fine roast lamb on Good Friday when Catholics abstain from meat?

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