Are new age ideas fundamentally changing the way we do Christmas?

Nov 27, 2021
Christmas traditions may be changing. Source: Getty

Are new age ideas changing the way we do Christmas? It’s a question that is bound to come up this year. We’ve got gay Santa, and woke Santa, a clear sign that Christmas is evolving. Even Myer seems to have given up on their traditionally over-the-top incredible blockbuster advertisements and showstopping Christmas windows, opting for softer, more inclusive ones instead. But are these new angles and the seemingly non-stop holiday pushing, changing the fundamental basis of Christmas itself?

Starts At 60 interviewed five women to find out, let’s meet them:

The first person we interviewed, Petrina, is a Christmas fanatic. Petrina is the kind of lady who does things in a big way; Christmas is the season in which her creativity and vibrancy can really merge. Petrina has three adult children, all as different as can be.  Petrina enjoys making the most of her time, often taking long trips to some of the most picturesque locations Australia has to offer.

The second, Anna, is a force to be reckoned with. Living in a leafy inner-city suburb, Anna enjoys a fast-paced life, filled with friends, family, and funny stories about her teaching days. Anna’s energy is infectious, but her philosophy, simple – do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

The third lady, Nat, is also a teacher. Nat is still working, and enjoys spending time with her children, of whom she is immensely proud. Nat’s nine-month-old puppy, Daisy, is a tornado on legs, and seems to rule the household these days. When not tending to dear Daisy, Nat enjoys the outdoors, and exploring what the world at her doorstep has to offer.

Robyn is the fourth person we interviewed. A grandmother of six, and fashionista from way back, Robyn lives a very active life by the beach. Robyn makes the absolute most of her retired life, ensuring every day she has some form of social encounter planned… or at least that’s what her husband tells us. Whether it is lunch with the girls, a session of Mahjong, visiting the grandkids, or having a little hit at croquet, Robyn’s life is full to the brim.

Rae is the final lady we spoke with. A macadamia farmer,  a regular day for Rae is often be spent on the tractor, the slasher (a farm-sized lawnmower), or in the farmhouse running the books. Rae’s three adult children live nearby, and so often swing by for a quick catch-up. When she’s not on the farm, Rae enjoys caravanning around rural and regional Australia.

Now you know the ladies, let’s get into the questions:

When do you believe is the right time to put up your Christmas tree? How about your other Christmas decorations –  Christmas lights, trinkets, and other Christmassy decorations?

Petrina is a Christmas person through and through, she shared: “Putting up the tree used to be a set task on December 1, however now I do it in about mid-November. This year the tree went up during the first week of November. It’s getting earlier and earlier with each passing year.”

Nat’s family starts constructing their elaborate Christmas light display in the beginning of November. Usually, the tree will go up in mid-November, however, Nat shared that this year time got away from the family, and so the tree will be put up together today.

Rae’s family traditions agree with the above, with Rae saying that the Christmas tree and any decorations must be put up on December 1. Rae also shared that December 1 every year is a very festive occasion, with all of her Christmas baking preparation, meal planning, and all decorations going up on December 1 also. Rae’s family used to make the decorations together from rolls of crepe paper, and glue. Folding, cutting, and gluing tree decor, paper chains, and paper lanterns, Rae shared that tinsel was a symbol of health, and fairy lights on the tree were the biggest status symbol of all.

When is it acceptable to press play on Christmas carols?

Petrina believes that it’s okay to play those Christmas Carols as soon as the tree is up, but it’s best to listen to them while doing Christmassy things.

Rae shared that she likes to play carols as she is preparing for Christmas – putting up the tree or decorations, wrapping presents, or preparing the food. However, she’s often told to “turn that sh*t off” by her family. When this happens, she turns it up louder. Christmas joy is seasonal and must be shared!

When do you start planning gifts for loved ones? When do you buy them?

Petrina shared: “In a perfect world, I’d start planning early – during Winter – just to avoid the last-minute panic. However, if you are a mother like me, you’ll start planning in November, and aim to have the whole lot finished by early December”.

Anna said that she usually leaves the Christmas shopping until the week of Christmas, but has a firm list of what she wants to buy for each person before she goes on her shopping spree. Anna also shared that she gets them gift-wrapped in the shopping centre on the day that she buys the gifts, to save her time and hassle.

Nat shared that usually she leavings the gift planning and buying until the school holidays (as she works). However, this year due to the threat of no stock being available, she has gotten in early, having planned and purchased most of her gifts already.

Robyn likes to buy gift cards for her family. It means that they can get exactly what they need, and no one is left with something unwanted or unsuited, that they don’t really want. Robyn normally supplements these gift cards with something small, and starts thinking about what and where to get the small items and gift cards from in late November.

When do you start planning the Christmas menu? What’s on it?

Petrina shared: “I start planning the menu at different times depending where the family is. The ham is usually bought first; we always have a big leg of ham, smoked, and glazed with fig and macadamias. I think it’s a Better Homes and Gardens recipe I found a decade or so ago. We always end up eating the leftovers well into January, as bad or good as that is for you. Ham goes with everything; Ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, ham everything. plus heaps of little desserts: Pavlova, Mars Bar Slice, chocolate crackles, cheesecake, and rocky road, plus Christmas cake.”

“I don’t give much thought to Christmas lunch until the school holidays,” shared Nat.  Nat’s Christmas menu was quite similar to Petrina’s, however, her enthusiasm for the holidays escalates at a different time. “The winding down of school, and a street Christmas party for us is a nice way to start December. We make a small amount of themed food for that party, and for work that last week.”

Robyn’s family always has a leg of ham, but also has fresh prawns, potato bake, and an assortment of delicious desserts for Christmas lunch every year. Robyn shared that this year, after many, many years of handmaking her own Christmas cake, a family recipe that likely originated from the classic CWA cookbook, she’s purchased her Christmas cake from Aldi, and is excited to do some other things with those spare hours she now has between now and Christmas.

Rae is an avid chef, and so loves the Christmas menu planning and preparation, often planning the meal and it’s highlight dish well in advance of the festivities. She shared that her family normally has a macadamia glazed ham, a handmade rolled turkey, and plenty of sweets for afterward, including a plum pudding that takes eight weeks to fully mature.

What does Christmas mean to you? Has this changed?

Petrina: “Christmas is a time for family. A time for fun, getting together, and enjoying each other’s company with a fruit tingle [cocktail] beside the pool.”

Anna: “Christmas is about catching up with your family, and about reconnecting with your faith. I’m a Catholic, so to me, Christmas is a time to new life, regeneration, and reconnection with those you care most about.”

Robyn: “I feel it is a time for family getting together, if that is possible.”

Rae: “Christmas is about family time, and good food. Spending time with your kids, and their families.”

So are the new angles on Christmas, and the seemingly non-stop holiday pushing, changing the fundamental basis of the festive season?

It seems the meaning of Christmas isn’t lost, as new-age Christmas ideas come into hte zeitgeist. Christmas is still about good food and good company; spending the day with those you adore. It’s not about the lights you put on your tree, or the amount of money you spend on gifts. Despite the commercialisation of this holiday, Christmas is still, at its heart, and in the hearts of these five women, a time for family, and fun together.

What's the secret to your Christmas cake or plum pudding?

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