Aussie Christmas Stories and the Aboriginal people

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Australian children grow up enjoying traditional Christmas stories such as Clement Clarke Moore’s Twas the Night Before Christmas and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but children’s authors and illustrators are beginning to create truly Australian children’s Christmas literature. One favourite is Wombat Divine by Mem Fox, while a more recent addition is Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison. Also very popular are the Santa is coming to……….books by Steve Smallman

The Christmas break is an opportunity for sports fans to enjoy two major sporting events. The 26 December is the opening day of the ‘Boxing Day Test’ between the Australian Cricket Team and an international touring side at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This has been well attended since the first match in 1950, and watched by many others on television. In Sydney one of the world’s most prestigious ocean races, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, starts on Boxing Day from Sydney Harbour.

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Of course we can’t talk about Christmas in Australia without mentioning the Indigenous people of this great country.

Indigenous Dreamtime stories obviously do not include Christmas. However, this date in the calendar coincides with other seasonal changes. In Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Yolngu Aboriginal people will observe the last season of their six-season cycle. Gudjewg, the wet season, begins in late December.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities include Christian groups within them which celebrate Christmas. The Ntaria Choir at Hermannsburg, via Alice Springs, Northern Territory, has a unique musical language from mixing the traditional vocals of the Ntaria women with Lutheran chorales – the hymn tunes that were the basis of much of J.S. Bach’s music.

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Baba Waiyar, a popular traditional Torres Strait Islander hymn, is featured on Lexine Solomon’s debut album This is Woman (2003) – showing the influence of gospel music mixed with traditionally strong Torres Strait Islander vocals and country music. Significantly, Torres Strait Islanders celebrate the ‘Coming of the Light’ on 1 July, the day the London Missionary Society landed at Erub Island in 1871.

Modern Indigenous Christmas celebrations are beginning to take on elements of traditional Indigenous culture.

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