Summer in Australia: Heralding Our Heavenly King

Summer in Australia: Heralding Our Heavenly King

By Peter Tyrrell

Have you ever heard of a country stopping for four weeks every year? Well, it certainly happens in Australia!

Those of us who live in the southern hemisphere (the top of the world on correctly rotated maps) have the pleasure of having our summer, Christmas, and end of the school year all at the same time. Many organizations and offices take four-week breaks over the Christmas-New Year period, leaving Australia like a ghost town, except at our numerous holiday destinations.

Around the country, families head to the beach, caravan parks fill up, tents crowd the camping grounds, and roads clog as people seek a few weeks of “R & R”. And yet, while the temperature can reach 38 degrees, we maintain our extensive European traditions wherever we plan to spend Christmas, hanging icicle lights outside houses or on trees, and painting ‘snow’ on windowsills. Santa is often seen sweating profusely under his traditional suit, as he walks around giving sweets out to the children.

On Christmas Day, gifts will be shared, all wrapped in colourful festive paper, before lunch is enjoyed with the family. You’ll see people in their shorts and bathing suits enjoying cookouts and you’ll also spot die-hards feasting on a traditional cooked lunch with meat, gravy, and hot vegetables. You’ll find some Australians relaxing at picnic tables under verandas and others inside under ceiling fans seeking escape from the humidity.

No matter the meal or location they choose, for Australians, Christmas Day just isn’t complete until everyone — from grandads to toddlers — gather in the garden or the beach’s foreshore for a spot of cricket. Each year, this tradition proves that many of us are older than we care to admit. Ah, Christmas!

While many Aussies flee the cities at Christmastime, I’ve come to cherish the Advent season leading up to Christmas. From mid-November to Christmas, people in communities all over the country gather at candlelit public venues singing songs that herald the birth of Jesus Christ. Then on Christmas Eve, Australians across the country turn on their television sets to watch the annual Carols by Candlelight gala performance at Melbourne’s amphitheatre, the Myer Music Bowl. Tens of thousands in attendance sing the familiar names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; and millions across our land join in.

What a great way to begin our holiday period!

In 1948, John Wheeler penned a song that adequately describes how Australians experience Christmas. I hope meditating on its lyrics deepens your holiday experience:

“Christmas Day”

The North Wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town,
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown;
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child the Heavenly King.

The tree ferns in green gullies sway;
The cool stream flows silently by;
The joy bells are greeting the day,
And the chimes are adrift in the sky,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-Child the Heavenly King.1

Merry Christmas to you all — wherever you are — from the place Australians call The Great Southland of the Holy Spirit! May we all lift up our voices together and sing to our heavenly King!

1. © 1948 CHAPPELL & CO (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD. All Rights World-Wide Administered by WARNER CHAPPELL MUSIC (Publishing) and ALFRED PUBLISHING (Print). Reproduced by Permission Of ALFRED AUSTRALIA PTY LTD. Unauthorised Reproduction Is Illegal.

About the Author:  Peter Tyrrell

Peter Tyrrell