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Australians have a love affair with Christmas

By Warwick Marsh - posted Monday, 23 December 2019

Several years ago, Australia spent more on Christmas per capita than any other nation. The Americans are beating us this year, but we are still right up there.

The average household in Australia will spend $969 each this Christmas, based on all expenses including gifts, food and decorations. That is a grand total of 18.8 billion dollars.


And what about the fact that 'Carols by Candlelight' celebrations are held all throughout December and attended by several million Australians?

Many of these people would never go to a church at all throughout the year, but are happy to pack the esky with some 'tinnies', take the wife and kids, set up camping chairs and enjoy the annual Christmas praise and worship sing-along.

The explosion of Christmas lights across the suburbs is also another sign that Christmas is getting more popular, not less so. As Wikipedia says:

"In Australia and New Zealand, chains of Christmas lights were quickly adopted as an effective way to provide ambient lighting to verandas, where cold beer is often served in the hot summer evenings. Since the late 20th century, increasingly elaborate Christmas lights have been displayed, and driving around between 8 and 10 p.m. to view the lights has become a popular form of family entertainment. In some areas Christmas lighting becomes a fierce competition, with town councils offering awards for the best decorated house, in other areas it is seen as a co-operative effort, with residents priding themselves on their street or their neighbourhood. The town of Lobethal, South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills, is famed for its Christmas lighting displays."

So what is driving this increasing interest in Christmas, here is Australia?

Well I believe it is a number of factors. We know the retailers are pushing Christmas pretty hard, but even that does not explain its peculiar popularity. Australians are not a particularly religious lot, yet we do have a longing for transcendence.


When Paul Hogan said in Crocodile Dundee, "I read the bible once. You know God and Jesus and all the apostles? They were all fishermen, just like me. Yeah, straight to heaven for Mick Dundee. Yep, me and God, we'd be mates." He was not just speaking for himself.

Henry Lawson, renowned Australian poet wrote of the famed bush preacher 'The Christ of the 'Never'.

. . . . With eyes that seem shrunken to pierce
To the awful horizons of land...
Quiet-voiced and hard-knuckled, rides forward
The Christ of the Outer Outback...

He works where the hearts of all nations
Are withered in flame from the sky...
He's the doctor – the mate of the dying
Through the smothering heat of the night.

By his worth in the light that shall search men
And prove – ay! and justify each –
I place him in front of all churchmen
Who feel not, who know not – but
preach. . . . .

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About the Author

Warwick Marsh is the founder of the Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation with his wife Alison. They have five children and two grandchildren and have been married for 34 years.

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