The authorities in our state of New South Wales have urged all locals in the Sydney area to wear masks in public areas and to remain on high alert.
The cases concern the Northern beaches of Sydney but really concern the entire city and the entire country because we all know this virus work by now and how easily it can spread so we are worried not only about it but about the new restrictions, the potential new lockdowns and the potential new limitations this situation may lead to.
This new cluster is also ruining everyone’s plans for a relatively normal Christmas which, let’s be honest, we all deserved to have after this terrible year that just passed.
People have been asked to stay home as much as possible and to get tested if they have symptoms.
Unlike in Victoria, where they had many cases for several months and a very, very long quarantine period, mask-wearing has not been a common practice here in the Sydney area in recent months due to low rates of infection close to zero for what I know so much so that I stopped checking or worrying about it.
So, I don’t know what I’ll do for Christmas in the end. I was hoping to celebrate it with friends on the beach because it is Summer here Down Under but we’ll see how it goes in a few days.
Christmas in Australia is very different from how we celebrate it back home in Italy or Europe.
Forget images of snow and the people wrapped in coats and hats, in Australia, most people are in shorts and flip flops around these festivities (some goes around even barefoot).
Yet Christmas spirit is here...It is a Christmas perhaps a little less religious than the Italian one because Australia does not have an official religion even though nearly 75% of Australians say they are Christians.
In normal times in Australia for Christmas there are people who participate in Christmas Carols nights: they are one of the many evening events with Christmas songs that are organized in the villages or in the suburbs of large cities. On those occasions, children and adults, groups of enthusiasts or members of associations perform Christmas carols and usually for a cause so they can raise money for charity or similar associations. On a national level, then, there is a real concert based on this tradition that is broadcast on TV. Then there is, of course, the Christmas tree which is a must in Australia. But what makes Australians literally crazy are the Christmas lights.
The balconies of Sydney's tall buildings are dotted with lights and colors. Most people, however, live in nice little houses, cottages or villas outside the city center and that's where they indulge the most. The gardens and the facades of the houses are decorated in a crazy way. Multicolored lights everywhere, reindeer complete with a life-size sleigh made of white or multicolored flashing lights.
There are inflatable Santas even two or three times larger than the normal human figure, colored signs and all sorts of decorations you can think of. Even the palm trees are decorated with lights and ribbons like a Christmas tree. There is a competition for who has the greatest disco effect and the inhabitants of each street celebrate the neighbor with the most beautiful lights by visiting the garden and congratulate them with lavish compliments.
The little ones hang the stocking in front of the fireplace or in the house waiting for the gifts on Christmas day.
The Christmas menu usually includes dishes that are usually very different from those put on the table in Italian homes.
Here it is summer and lunch is quite light: mostly salads, turkey and lots and lots of fish, especially shrimp which at Christmas is almost a must have!
For dessert there is the Christmas pudding of chocolate and almonds of the English tradition.
If the weather will be nice and Covid-19 permitting I’ll be celebrating on the beach and then with friends having ‘shrimps on the barbie’ as they call them here the shrimps on the barbecue.
A house not far from where I live is super nice for Christmas