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In this blog, we bring you all the latest news and advice on holidays in Australia.

Holidays in Australia

Ken Fagin wanted to know if we celebrate the American holidays Halloween and Thanksgiving. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween is not officially recognized in Australia. Some older Australians strongly object to celebrating the American holidays here.

However, each year you’ll find more Halloween things in our stores such as costumes and candy. Going trick-or-treating is growing in popularity with many Aussie kids because of the candy, costumes and parties.

I’ve made some Halloween cards you might enjoy sharing.You’ll find Aussie Halloween and Bonzer Halloween and Halloween Kissing is a modern version of an old favourite.

St Patrick’s Day in Australia

Irish Australians

We get emails from students wanting to know what it’s like here in Australia.

Margo wrote and asked us if we “had any Irish people living in Australia.”

Yes, Margo, Australia has over 1.8 million Aussies who say they have Irish ancestry. (2006 Census)

Australia has a well-documented Irish past. About 40,000 Irish convicts were transported to Australia (1791-1867). Some became convicts because they took part in the Irish Rebellion (1798).

Not all were convicts. Many free settlers emigrated to Australia during Ireland’s Great Famine (1845-1852) where 1 million died as a result of starvation. Between 1840 and 1914 over 300,000 Irish free settlers arrived here.

In the past Irish Australians were sometimes treated with suspicion and hostility. But that changed over time as they became an integral part of our society. In fact, during the outlaw Ned Kelly’s time (1855-80) about 80% of the Victorian police were Irish-born.

Irish Celebrations in Australia

Yes, Margo, we also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a fun way to show our appreciation of Irish culture & traditions.

We’ve officially celebrated St Patrick’s Day since 1810 when Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared the date an official day of celebration.

200 years later, with names like Mulligan’s, Gallagher’s, Murphy’s, Harrigan’s, Paddy Malone’s, you’ll find many Irish Pubs across Australia who host local events every year. If you’re looking for a parade, you’re in luck. Sydney Australia hosts the second largest Irish parade in the world.

St. Patricks Day Parade in Sydney

Sydney will hold their 2012 St Patrick’s Parade and Family Day on Sunday 18 March. The theme this year is Sydney Celebrating Its Irishness. The Sydney Parade and Family Day is the largest Irish event in the Southern Hemisphere with over 30,000 Irish and Australian Irish families attending.

St Patrick’s Day Parade in Brisbane

The 23rd annual St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012 in Brisbane will be held Saturday 10. Theme this year is Ireland: Land of Legends. The Brisbane Irish Festival 2012 runs from the 9th to the 17th of March. Cultural and heritage events include music, dance, film and of course food. For more info about the events visit The Irish Club website.

Christmas Tradition

Southern Hemisphere’s
Largest Light Display

Over 60 years ago businesses in the small town of Lobenthal in Adelaide Hills, SA started decorating their windows with hand-painted light globes for Christmas.

What started out as only a few businesses on main street has now expanded to an estimated 90% of the entire town, both businesses and homes, that decorate with lights from the 2nd Sunday of December to New Year’s Eve. This is when the town celebrates with a festival, the Lights of Lobenthal. Approximately 250,000 visitors come to see it.

Christmas in Australia

In 2008 the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere will be 21 December. For those of us that live in Australia, that means more daylight hours with temperatures in the mid 30°s (100°F).

While our northern hemisphere friends, the Americans and the Brits, may be rugging up to keep warm, we’re in our shorts trying to stay cool. Even Santa wears shorts.

Speaking of Santa, Aussie children look forward to his arrival in his sleigh pulled by six white boomers.

Never heard of boomers?

They’re white kangaroos of course. Thanks to Rolf Harris, we even have a song about our Six White Boomers.

Why are there only six? Our boomers are stronger than reindeer so Santa only needs six of them to pull his sleigh. It’s quite sight to see!

Here’s a bit of trivia for you.

You know the traditional reindeer lot (Dasher, Dancer, etc.), but how many of you know the names of the six white boomers. For the answer, click on the song link above.

Aside from the presents, Aussie kids look forward to this time of year because they get a six week holiday from school.

Victoria Day & the Queens Birthday

Andrew wrote us from Canada … “your site says Canada celebrates the Queens Birthday in the middle of May. What you might not know it is Queen Victoria not Queen Elizabeth II.”

Andrew, you’re almost right. The Canadian celebration is called Victoria Day because it was created to honour the late Queen Victoria. However, over the years the Canadian holiday has changed to include the reigning sovereign’s birthday as well.

The Queen’s Birthday in Australia and Victoria Day in Canada are basically the same even if it’s a different date. So we both celebrated the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011.

Anzac Protected

It seems the Australian government has decided that our Anzac Day cards violated their regulations. What regulations you say? Regulations to protect the word ‘Anzac’ and any word resembling it, from inappropriate use, were made originally in the War Precautions Act in 1914.

We thought our Anzac cards were tastefully done and designed to honour the special men and women who serve and protect our country. Unfortunately The Hon Bruce Billson, MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs didn’t see it that way and declined to give us permission to have the cards. So we’ve removed the word ‘Anzac’ and you’ll now find the cards listed in Holidays as “Lest We Forget“.

Actually we are in favour of the regulation. Besides the historical importance, the Anzacs hold a special place in our country’s cultural identity. So it is important to protect, even if the ruling went against us.

Does this mean you can’t use the word Anzac for anything? You may have noticed streets and highways called Anzac. That’s permitted. How about Anzac biscuits? Yes, but only if you use the traditional recipe and shape. Sorry Yanks, but calling it Anzac cookies is prohibited.

No Anzac Biscuits for Subway

Subway sold Anzac Biscuits until September 2008. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs ordered them to bake the biscuits according to the original recipe. Their supplier couldn’t do it in a cost effective way, so Subway no longer has them for sale.

As far back as 1917 people tried to make money out of using the name. Walker and his ‘famous dog Anzac’ ran the Anzac Golliwog Company which performed in theatres around Australia. After being interviewed by the local police, he left the state and presumable stopped using the name.

Some people asked to use the name Anzac for a child’s name (approved) while others wanted to name their homes Anzac (refused). Queensland Kops Brewery wanted to make beer labels called Anzac Toast (refused). So ask permission first.

More information:
   Regs at Dept of Veterans’ Affairs
   Australians at War

Valentine’s Day

During the Australian gold rush period, it’s said that the miners ordered extravagantly expensive Valentines. Flush with money, the miners bought the most lavish Valentines costing thousands of pounds. Often it was made of a satin cushion, perfumed and ornately decorated with flowers and even taxidermied birds.

As everyone knows, Valentine’s Day is the day you’re supposed to show the person you love how you feel.

But did you know that …

• about 15% of women in the US send flowers to themselves on Valentine’s Day. Are Aussie women doing that too?

• around 3% of pets receive Valentine cards from their owners. At least that’s the number of people admitting doing it.

• according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 500 million online greeting cards are sent worldwide each year.

And a few superstitions …

• To be awoken by a kiss on Valentine’s Day is considered lucky. Most women we know would feel that way everyday.

• If you see a squirrel on Valentine’s Day, you will marry a cheapskate who will hoard all your money. Worried about this one? Come to Australia … we don’t have squirrels.

Queensland Holiday Update

I updated the Queensland calendar we have to reflect the permanent changes made to the Queens Birthday holiday (now in June) and the Labor Day holiday (now in October). The calendar has been extended to 2015.

I also updated the other state & territory calendars.

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