Christmas in Australia by Rodney Berry, age 12

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Christmas in Australia is always about 30° celsius which is a rather hot day. Most Australian families go away and spend their holidays in a resort or on the beach. Swimming is always popular.

Unlike in New York, people walk around in shorts and T-shirts and still get sweltering hot. Everyone invites their friends and grandparents over for salad with cold meats, or a picnic, or even a barbecue. Nobody has anything like a roast dinner or a turkey.

When kids wake up in the morning, they hurriedly toss off their sheet and race towards the plastic Christmas tree. The presents are piled up under it. When the time comes to open the presents the kids tear off the paper. When all of this is over they go outside and have a game of Cricket or go to the beach for a swim.

In poorer areas of Australia, kids expect two or three presents but some get many. Families sometimes venture north or go overseas for Christmas but most stay in Australia and relax in the floods of glorious sunshine.

In Queensland where I live, the beaches are incredibly popular, especially down at the Gold Coast.

The food is never hot, and many go out for dinner instead of having a heavy lunch. Many people go to church as well to celebrate and pray. The next big holiday is the day after, Boxing Day. I'm not sure if you have a similar day in America, but in Australia this is like a day for cleaning up. Everyone helps out to clear the paper and to store it for next year, and the tree is also disassembled.

Christmas is the most exciting time of the year. The school kids get six weeks off and all the shops close on Christmas day and Boxing Day. December is one of the hottest months of the year so many people need air conditioning in their house. Sometimes it can get so hot and sticky that you can't stay outside for more than an hour.

Compared to New York, our ways and traditions may be different but we all celebrate Christmas for the same cause.

Rodney, the author, and illustrator Yoko Tahara, age 12, both attend the Brisbane Montessori School located in Queensland, Australia.

- originally published in the Holiday 1993 issue of ZuZu

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