Saturday, April 20, 2013

Australian Adventure (Day 4 of 21) - Christmas in Sydney

Can you spot what's different with our tree?
         Out of all the holidays in a year, my most favorite to celebrate is the Christmas season.  It's the time for parties, joyful reunions, gift-giving, and of course, celebrating the birth of Jesus.  As mentioned in one of my previous posts, as early as September, you can already hear Christmas carols being played over the radio and Christmas lanterns being sold along the streets in the Philippines.  We also have these dawn masses or more commonly known as "Misa de Gallo" or "Simbang Gabi" in Filipino. These masses are normally celebrated around 4-4:30 in the early morning, and start at the 16th of December and ends at the 24th.  Some say that if you complete the nine masses and make a wish, that wish would come true.  As for me, I still haven't been able to complete a "Simbang Gabi" as I have a tendency to sleep-in especially with the colder weather during December.  Filipino delicacies such as "puto-bungbong" and "bibingka" are also usually sold near the churches.  Christmas trees adorned with multi-colored Christmas lights could also be found not only in homes but also in office buildings, shopping malls, and city halls.  Calendars are also easily filled as Christmas parties and annual reunions are held once the month of December kicks in.  Fortunately for me, I was still able to attend the Christmas parties and reunions with officemates and friends before I had to leave for my trip to Australia.  However, one thing I did miss was celebrating "Noche Buena", which is a traditional Christmas feast held every Christmas Eve with one's family.

             In Australia, what they normally hold are Christmas day lunches.  Tito Bru's   side of the family celebrated with us in their house.  We prepared ham (weighing about 8 kilos!) with a tasty pineapple sauce, shrimp, fresh garden salad, potato salad, turkey, pavlova, and cheesecake.  Some of the food were brought over by Tito Bru's family, but the gigantic ham was cooked in Tita A and Tito Bru's own oven.

Oh Christmas ham! nom nom nom
Christmas Day Lunch

Celebrating Christmas - Sydney Style

                         Tito Bruno's Mum also made a delicious pavlova.  Apparently, a pavlova is a typical Australian Christmas dessert that was named after a famous Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova.  It is basically "a meringue dessert" primarily made from egg whites. It is normally served on special occasions and holidays such as Christmas, and highly popular during summer.  Strawberries and kiwifruit are usually added to decorate the pavlova as seen below.  A chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries, cherries and blueberries on top, was also brought for our Christmas celebration

Pavlova and choco cheesecake

                After our tummies have been sated by the extremely delicious food, we moved on to another favorite of mine, especially when I was a child...the opening of gifts!  Tito Bru's sister has two kids, who were very excited to see their gifts.  The whole family gathered in the living room and tasked the kids to randomly pick the presents and see who were they for.  It was fun seeing how their faces would light up every time their names would be called. [Oh the joy of being a kid! Such happiness for having a worry-free life!]  I think I already lost count of the number of gifts that  they received for that day.  But not to worry, I'm happy to say that each person in that room, managed to receive a gift of two. Some of the gifts were as simple as a wall clock, popcorn maker, hair straightener, and then there's the completely different level of gits such as the spit roast with rotisserie that Tita A and Tito Bru received. As for my case, the gifts that I got may not be that many in number, but they were definitely special and well-thought of.

Gifts, gifts and more gifts

My own set of gifts

Perfect for future gatherings

              Celebrating Christmas in Australia was definitely an experience that I won't forget. Though the celebration may be a bit different from the Philippines, in essence, they are the same.  It's still a day that you spend with loved ones (may it be family or friends), no matter which part of the world you may be.

Up Next... Surfing on the Australian Waves!

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