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Winter in Summer

Gennaio 2018
Un Natale con la prospettiva ribaltata: temperature massime e spiagge piene di gente. In Australia la neve non si vede spesso, ma in ogni caso il nostro inverno è la loro estate... in fondo, basta adattare le tradizioni nordiche a un 25 dicembre molto caldo, per non dire torrido.

di Mike O’Neill

File audio:

In Australia, Christmas is celebrated in summertime
In Australia, Christmas is celebrated in summertime
A barbecue on the beach
A barbecue on the beach

Speaker: Sarah Davison (Australian accent)

In Europe we have just finished celebrating Christmas, which comes four days after the winter solstice, or ‘midwinter’, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. For many Europeans, therefore, especially in northern parts of the continent, Christmas and New Year mean cold weather – frost, icicles and maybe even snow.
In Australia, ‘Down Under’, Christmas is also celebrated with mostly the same traditions – Santa Claus brings presents to the kids, many people sing carols and some even decorate a Christmas tree. There is one important difference, however: it is the middle of the Australian summer, which usually means scorching heat and high humidity.


Instead of sitting down to Christmas lunch in a house with the heating full on, or sitting close to a real log fire, people in ‘Oz’ do things outside – many go into the back yard to have a barbecue (or a ‘barbie’ as they call it) to grill their dinner in the sunshine. Many families go to the beach or to the countryside and enjoy a picnic of cold turkey or ham and a salad. The essential item to take on this outing is the ‘eski’, or cooler, normally used to keep beer cold. Inside it go the ‘tinnies’ or ‘stubbies’, which will wash down the food.


Father Christmas also has to adapt to the hot weather, and has been known to appear on the beach to greet children wearing shorts, something he certainly does not do in the northern hemisphere. Whether the family has eaten outside in the garden or on the beach, lunch is often followed by everyone, young and old, taking part in a game of cricket. Cricket is the number one summer sport in Oz and a national obsession.


If Christmas afternoon is for amateur cricketers, the next day, Boxing Day, is only for the professionals: traditionally, 26th December is the first day of a five-day ‘Test match’ – an international match when Australia take on one of the other powers of world cricket. It is therefore essential to have plenty of beer chilled in the fridge at home to watch every moment of the match, which often starts around 11am and goes on till around 6 or 7pm.


This year is significant as the ‘Aussies’ are playing their arch-enemies England, or ‘the Poms’, in a five-match series. They play to decide which country wins a traditional trophy known as ‘The Ashes’, and the fifth and final ‘Test’ starts on January the 4th. This is one of the greatest sporting rivalries in the world. The levels of excitement and passion it provokes have to be seen to be believed.

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Down Under. Oz. Sono diversi modi di chiamare l’Australia. Down Under significa letteralmente ‘giù di sotto’, e fa riferimento al fatto che, vista dall’emisfero nord, l’Australia sta sotto, sulla mappa (ovviamente in senso relativo). Oz è più che altro una deformazione della pronuncia di Aussies, un modo colloquiale di chiamare gli australiani.

Boxing Day. Il giorno di Santo Stefano. È il giorno dopo Natale. Ci sono varie versioni sull’origine di questo nome. La più diffusa riconduce il termine alle scatole (boxes) che tradizionalmente si mettevano fuori dalle chiese dopo Natale per raccogliere le elemosine per i poveri.

Test match. Partita per testare la forza delle squadre. Nel campo del cricket e del rugby, questa espressione è utilizzata per le partite tra due paesi, generalmente con una lunga storia in questi sport. Nel caso del cricket: Inghilterra, India, Australia, Pakistan o Nuova Zelanda, tra gli altri.

The Poms. Gli inglesi. Si tratta di un soprannome un po’ denigratorio, usato dagli australiani per riferirsi agli inglesi. Pom viene da pomegranate, il melograno, frutto rossiccio che ricorda la pelle degli inglesi dopo l’esposizione al sole.