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Tis the season to be jolly! December 19, 2014

WOW, Christmas is just about upon us again, how time flies when you’re having fun! I must admit, I’m still a little boy at heart and Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love seeing the little faces of small children light up as they stare in amazement at all the lights, decorations and Father Christmas, and the best thing - their unabated screams of excitement as they open their presents on Christmas morning.  

But good gracious, what about the lead-up to Christmas Day?  Are you  sick of hearing from your partner or family words to the effect of “What you have to remember darling is, although this may be a time for relaxation, it is not a time for procrastination, and as I haven’t a clue of what to buy, I’ll leave it in your capable hands to buy presents for everyone.”

At least if you’re computer savvy buying Christmas presents is a lot easier. I read recently that online sales are in the order of at least $1 billion at this time of year and the top segments for online sales are electrical, fashion, books, pharmacy (yes, mainly Viagra!) , recreation and furniture, and 40% of all online sales in Australia are purchased from sites based overseas. WOW, has the internet changed the traditional way of buying Christmas presents or what?

And what about online communications at Christmas time? Just think how lucky we are in this day and age, that Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are instantly available to get fabulous pics of our happy moments out into the world as they’re happening.

Christmas traditions are so much about culture and spirituality, which got me thinking the other day about what people in other parts of the world do at Christmas time.

We‘re very lucky at St Andrew’s to have in our fold interesting people from all corners  of the world:  Aggie from Poland, Mike from Germany, Steph from  Zimbabwe, Tulsi from Kenya, Kirsty from New Zealand, Jacques and Izak from South Africa, Trong from Vietnam and Amanda from the Motherland England. I would love to be a fly on the wall at their places during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fortunately for them I can’t, so I did the next best thing and asked them to share how they celebrate Christmas in their country of origin.

Once they let their guard down, they had some great stories to tell. Did you know that in Poland the most meaningful day is Christmas Eve (Wigilia)?  They have their big meal and give presents on Christmas Eve. The women of the family start preparing the meal earlier in the day, consisting of twelve meatless dishes. While the meal is being cooked, children decorate the Christmas tree and set the table. An extra place is usually added in memory of those who have passed on. Legend has it that if they feed their animals with Oplatek (a wafer of flour and water) on Christmas Eve, the animals will be able to speak in human voices at midnight!

In Zimbabwe most of the presents are wrapped in white cloth. A lot of them will consist of packets of cane sugar, tobacco and homemade butters. Children get clothes and women give each other jewellery, mainly beaded necklaces and bracelets. Christmas mornings starts off with a church service with a lot of choir singing. 

In South Africa the traditional Christmas lunch includes turkey, ham, lamb and corned beef, all food is served cold with salads, which is something I think Aussie mums would really appreciate.

In New Zealand there has been a big move to hold Christmas lunch at the beach.

I have many more traditions to quote but we haven’t the space so get talking to your colleagues about their Christmas traditions, you’ll be fascinated!

On that note, from all of us at St Andrew’s, we hope you share a Christmas filled with good times, plenty of smiles, being together and laughing our loud.

Merry Christmas!       Een Plesierige Kerfees!      Feliz Navidad!   Meri Kirihimete!

Terry Jones
Marketing Manager  

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