Different traditions shape Advent and Christmas season. But not every country and every family celebrates in the same way. In this series, people from around the world tell their personal Christmas stories.
Dermot O’Grady celebrates Christmas this year like all Swiss do: with a real fir tree and the Christ Child bringing the presents. (Picture: Corinne Bischof)
In Australia, where I come from, December is special. But not because of the Advent season, but because then the summer begins. The big summer vacations are here, you go to the beach and swim in the sea, while the sun shines hot from the sky. Of course I’m looking forward to Christmas, but the atmosphere is very different from Switzerland. Snow, Guezli and punch, you know that only from the Christmas songs. By the way, these are the same songs as we know them from America.
fir trees do not grow in Australia. I buy a plastic tree, which then stands in my apartment. The Australians hardly believe me when I tell them that in Switzerland we put real fir trees in our living rooms. Generally, Australians like to travel to Switzerland when Christmas is coming up. Then, for once, they can celebrate Christmas the way it is written in the books: Christmas carols are sung in front of the Christmas tree, it is cozily warm inside after a day in the snow, and candles and lights are burning everywhere.
Only one street with Christmas lights
Where I lived in Australia, there is only one street where the houses are brightly lit and full of little twinkling lights. This is even supported by the city, because these houses have to pay less electricity during the Christmas season.
About the person
Dermot O’Grady, born in 1979, grew up in Adelaide in Australia. At 18, he got a tennis scholarship and moved to the U.S. He worked as a tennis coach in many different countries until he finally ended up in Switzerland. Here he lives with his wife Eveline and his two children Kimmi and Nikki in Neu St.Johann. (cob)
On Christmas Eve then nothing special happens in Australia. Celebration is only on 25. December, after a visit from Santa Claus that night. This one always goes down the chimney at night and distributes the presents. In the morning, the children get up excitedly and find their presents under the plastic tree. Slowly but surely, the other family members will start to arrive. Christmas is celebrated with all the relatives. We have a barbecue in the garden with a huge salad buffet or an aperitif on the beach.
A cold beer against the heat
In general, people in Australia drink more alcohol at Christmas than in Switzerland. A cold beer helps against the hot temperatures, which are highest towards the end of December. This year I celebrate Christmas with my wife Eveline and my two children Kimmi and Nikki in Switzerland. We get a visit from some relatives from Australia, and the presents are brought by the Christ Child, not Santa Claus.