What l love about Australia is that we do things differently here. Most cultures celebrate their big days which are usually holy days or days related to something semi “sacred”, for example, Chinese New Year, which is actually the Spring Harvest in traditional China. Its semi sacred status derives from the Chinese view of food as being sacred especially rice. I remember as a child that I was reprimanded severely for sitting on top of the rice bin that was a sacred object.
In Oz, we celebrate, a race day! For newly arrived Chinese, this must seem odd. Having a public holiday on a weekday Tuesday to watch horses race! Why not? I love watching all the crazy hats the women wear on Cup Day, not to mention seeing Aussie blokes geared up in their suits and top hats. For me, a Chinese woman, wearing hats is to keep off the sun. Here in Oz, hats are for show on Cup Day.
Another day is the celebration of the AFL Footy Final! Yippee! Have a Friday as a holiday. Why not? Football is to be celebrated for many reasons. It keeps the players fit and healthy, especially if they start young. It is for boys and girls. Above all, footy is good for business. Big business.
The more seriously sacred days that Aussies celebrate are ANZAC day and Remembrance Day. For foreigners new to Aussie culture, please do not say or do anything to offend us regarding these two holy days. On these two days, we remember those who died for us in many wars that Aussies have fought in since 1914-18. As I was born towards the end of the Second World War 1939-1945, I particularly want to remember my father who was working for the Royal Australian Airforce then. When he married my mother in 1940 (just before the Japanese invasion of British Malaya) his Aussie colleagues at the RAAF formed a “guard of honor” for Mum and Dad as a kind of congratulatory salute. Nice story told to us by my Mum. So in all the years I have lived in Australia, I love watching the parade on ANZAC day.
Remembrance Day on the 11th day, 11th month and at the 11th hour, we stand for a minute in silence to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget… for me I remember especially the cans of Kraft cheese the Aussie and British soldiers gave us when they landed in Malaya after the Japanese surrendered. So each Remembrance Day in Melbourne for over 50 years, I see in my mind’s eyes, the little cans of cheese which are no longer sold in OZ.
Now to the really sacred days in Australia, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas. Although many Australians describe themselves as “not religious, but spiritual”, Australian mainstream institutions are essentially Christian. In this respect, we celebrate Good Friday as the day that Jesus died and resurrected on Easter Monday. These two days, we declare as public holidays in Australia. Christmas is the day that Jesus Christ was born. So on Christmas day, we celebrate with families and many Aussies do go to church during Christmas in remembrance of Christ’ birthday. As a day of deep religious significance for many Australians, Christmas brings us, Asian and European Christians together alike together as no other day can do in a country or continent that is so diverse in so many important things that matter in our lives: family, work and leisure.
As my thoughts ramble along merrily in this last editorial for 2018, it occurs to me now that there is very little difference between our Chinese festivals and that of Australia’s. Aussies and Chinese celebrate Christmas. China celebrates their National Day similar to our Australia Day. Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Chinese in Australia and each year it gets bigger and merrier. So, for the year of the Pig, 2019, no doubt all our Chinatowns in OZ will be noisy and filled with food and goodies. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year of the piggy. Abundance symbolised by the pig is in store for us all in 2019: in health, wealth and love!