Legends from our own lunchtimes

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holiday? Not Likely Mate!

Christmas in Australia is a time for many to celebrate their religious beliefs in a multicultural community.

For those who don't share those beliefs, it's still Christmas.

One of the great things about living here is that unlike the all pervasive North American world where we mustn't offend anyone by calling a spade a spade, (or in the UK where that perfectly innocent and self explanatory expression gives rise to a whole range of different prejudicial connotations) here thankfully we are still honest enough with each other to recognise the reason we are having a few days off, whether we share a belief or not, is that it's Christmas, it's NOT "holiday".

Of course there is substantial irony in the use of the word "holiday" to dumb down the religious significance of the period, given the roots of the word "Holy Day", a point which I once made to the Director of International Operations for the large American company in which I had an operational liaison role at the time. I was objecting to the proposed use of the "happy holiday" terminology in our stationery supplies, complaining on behalf of an overwhelming number of Australian franchisees that it was an Americanism that we could do without.

She wouldn't back down, asking about all the Jewish people we would offend.

I explained that here, Christmas the event (as opposed to the religious festival) is gathering together as a family, it's a big fat feed, it's playing cricket after lunch, it's left over ham for tea that night, and eating too many chocolate bullets. It's wearing silly hats in public. It's getting too hot and not wearing shoes and drinking just enough so you can still play a game of Upwords in the evening, or maybe drinking so much you sleep till till after tea time. It's bloke's doing washing up, and having people over that you haven't seen in years. It's a time when there's only junk on television, and it's the day before the Boxing Day Test starts. It's a rollicking good time, with trees and presents and fake snow, and tacky ornaments and lights and an amazing number of things that strangely owe their existence to traditional Christian symbolism.

She pulled rank, and we had Happy Holiday wrappers for all our sandwiches that year.

I sent her the Christmas card we received from our friends, the Lehmanns.

Merry Christmas wherever you may be.


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