4 Dec 2009

An Australian Christmas

It was a bright, clear day--how bright, how blue, and how clear, none but those who have been out of the British isles can understand. It was Christmas day; but instead of frost and snow, and cold, and leafless trees, and blazing fires, there was intense heat, and the trees looked, as they always do in Australia, a dingy blueish tint, but still full of leaf and blossom: and here and there, where marks of cultivation peeped through the interminable forest or bush, there were strips of the brightest green maize, refreshing indeed to the eye, and contrasting pleasantly with the brown grass, and the tall white trunks of the gums. The house, or rather weather-boarded cottage, was four or five miles from the settlement, where there was a wooden church. Thither the family had repaired on this morning. There was but one service, for the clergyman proceeded to another congregatation eight miles beyond. There had been beef and plum pudding for dinner, the government men, or convicts, partaking in the Christmas fare; and there were thoughts of those far away, and many a lingering regret for the old associations of the season. Yet as the evening breeze sprung up, and stirred the gums and acacias, and breathing through the cottage refreshingly cool, the spirits of all rose, and with one accord they went out into the forest at the back of the house. The merry voices were echoed round and round, and I could see the farm-servants and working men as they strolled under the trees. Every one being out, I went to the back, to see that all was safe. There was a large waste piece of ground with the men's huts, the stables and barn, and nearer the house stood the kitchens and store. Two or three dogs lay about, the poultry were busy picking up their food, and a pet cockatoo came jumping up to my side, begging for a bone in its peculiarly unharmonious voice. As I stood, feeling rather lonely, I heard a dull, melancholy noise; it came from the kitchen. I thought every one had been out: I listened again. Yes, it was from the kitchen, and it was certainly some one in grief: heavy sobs and a low moaning formed a strange contrast to the distant sounds of mirth and merriment!
The Convict Laundress 1852 by Mary Theresa Vidal


  1. Hi Jeanne,
    It must have come as quite a culture shock having Christmas in Australia, after the severe cold of Great Britain. :P

    Have a great weekend.


  2. lol And several generations later, those of us born *down under* find the idea of snow & cold & skating on the pond Christmas day strange & peculiar!

  3. I don't usually find Christmas in summer odd but rather find the lack of Christmas/holidays in the winter months here odd - like I keep waiting for Christmas and it never comes, the cold weather makes me hum carols in my head and bake gingerbread cookies...

  4. I love your writing style!

    I'm happily following you from MBC.

    I've got a ton of great giveaways on my blog and I post about life as a mom and wife, The Penny-Pinching Mama


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