Mount Barker Christmas Pageant 2011

3 12 2011

First, some exclusive secret behind-the scenes snaps! I was going to do a sealed section to protect the magic….but I couldn’t work out how.

secret behind the scenes photos of the preparations.....

Behind the scenes - building a giant bird (see later for the "after" shots)

behind the scenes

This was possibly the largest and best Mt Barker Pageant I have seen (and I have been attended for a few years now). However, the Pageant is under threat – the Council storage sheds it uses have been deemed unsafe and they need a place to store the floats. If you are able to help, the contact links are at the bottom of the posting.

The Outback Dunny - a familiar Australian Christmas theme

One Man Band and a somewhat familiar looking clown.....

a giant flapping bird (this is what they were building in one of the "behind the scenes" photographs)

one of many CFS trucks in the parade, all staffed by volunteers. Thanks for keeping us safe over summer!

a pig, a chicken and something brown - perhaps a cow? (This should be subtitled "Christmas Lunch")

Christmas pirates

This woman walked the entire pageant in 6 inch heels - hats off to her! (and an iced foot bath)

Christmas witches? A bit of a mixed concept there...

Batmobile - THWACK!

Gingerbread House

the boy in orange is a lobster... King Neptune, Under the Sea

Little Christmas trees....Nairne Primary School

Hahndorf Town Band

The Flintstones....

that outfit must be really hot in the cadets

It wouldn't be a pageant with out a pipe band.

Father Christmas!

Excerpt from Mt Barker and Districts Residents’ Association website :
“At several recent Council meetings it has become clear that the Mt Barker Christmas Pageant committee are being pressured to find an alternative location for their floats as the current sheds have been deemed unsafe by a Council consultant. The land upon which the sheds are situated is Crown Land and the Council wishes to include this land in future development projects (subject to Government consent).

After a formal deputation to Council, the Pageant committee has been trying to source an alternative solution as they only have permission to remain at the current site until the end of 2011 (or specifically they can return the floats to the sheds after this year’s pageant with no guarantees that they will have access again after this date)!

If anyone has any ideas on how to assist the Pageant committee please contact either Councillor Carol Bailey or anyone on the Association Executive. We need to ensure this Christmas Pageant remains in Mt Barker, but the Committee will require community support for this to occur.”

Alternately, contact via Mt Barker Christmas Pageant website.

St Nicholas comes to Hahndorf

3 12 2011

In the lead-up to Christmas, Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills, held its St Nicholas Parade.

The Parade approaches

Hahndorf Town Band

St Nicholas

St Nicholas

Assorted shepherds and angels

The Parade passes

If you liked this post, you might also like Hahndorf Lantern Festival.

Mother tongue

30 11 2011

A modern-day Rosetta Stone. photo credit: Andrew Curtis

One of my mother’s favourite sayings as I was growing up, was “I learned my English in England – where did you learn yours?” This was rolled out whenever we had a dispute about pronunciation of words.

As ten pound POMs (a program whereby English immigrants got passage to Australia for ten pounds), my mother was vigilant to ensure that my pronunciation remained unsullied. The thick Brummy accent I had as a five-year old rapidly moderated to a relaxed Australian twang once I started school. Although being South Australian, it is a fairly clipped twang, not a broad Steve Irwin twang. But my pronunciation of certain words meant I stood out as an immigrant. I usually get picked up on “one” (I pronounce it won, not wun) and “year” (I pronounce it yerr, not yee-ar).

Several decades earlier my Irish grandparents had a rougher time in their migration to England. Grandad had to lose his accent in order to get a job. People with Irish accents could not get a job in England. My grandmother had small children and didn’t work in Britain so she never lost her accent, but her children were all brought up to have minimal and somewhat undefined accents. My grandparents were determined that their children would not be discriminated against because of the way they spoke. To this day it is difficult to pick where my mother and her brother and sisters come from – they have indeterminate accents. My grandmother meanwhile continues to have such a delightfully thick brogue that I have to translate her for my step-children. My children seem to have adapted to the brogue quite well – perhaps it is in the genes.

Learning French at school we heard about Alliance Francaise, an organisation dedicated to ensuring the purity of the French language, They were particularly vigilant against American slang creeping into the French language – weekend, hamburger – but it has to be said they are probably fighting a losing battle. Language evolves with each generation. The language of the 1920s, 1950s, 1980s and now is all quite different. As we become more globalised, languages cross borders more easily and become hybridised. And this is as it has always been. The English language is a hybrid, with words reflecting the history of the British Isles. The origins of many words come from Viking, Norman, Anglo, Saxon, Roman invasions, reflecting the stages of societal development and the inventions that each invasion brought to the Island.

Despite understanding the hybrid nature of our language, I have found myself correcting my children recently on their Americanisms (“We are Australian!”). I stress this is not about being anti-American, but it is about resisting cultural imperialism represented in Hollywood movies and television programs in an effort to maintain Australian English. We Australians like to be individuals (despite the fact we haven’t quite managed to become a republic yet.) A few of my favourites….

They are cupcakes, not muffins. (English muffins are an entirely different thing again)
They are biscuits, not cookies.
It’s Father Christmas, not Santa Claus.
It’s zed, not zee (even though it means the alphabet song doesn’t rhyme at the end)
The pronunciation of the letter “h” is aitch, not haitch.
There is no Australian translation for the word turducken, nor should there be.

My obsession has also extended to computer settings – I habitually changed the “z” to “s” in words such as socialise (not socialize). And I object to adding extra syllables to words to turn them into verbs – for instance, the word burglarise (or burglarize). It is just burgle, there is no need for the extra syllables. What does a burglar do? He or she burgles. The latest version of the Microsoft Australian English dictionary is not too bad (note to WordPress!), but occasionally errors creep in and I am vigilant!

Viva la France!

Stirling Christmas Pageant 2011

20 11 2011

Is it really nearly Christmas?

5 11 2011

photo credit Rkramer62

The signs are there.

The supermarkets are full of mince pies, turkey rolls, Christmas puddings and a variety of cheap and gaudy decorations.

The advertisements are on television, suggesting what that special someone in your life, mum, dad and the kids, would all like to receive for Christmas.

The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is next Saturday….and a variety of smaller pageants are scheduled for towns and suburbs. Once Father Christmas “arrives” in town, there will be no going back. The Magic Cave will be open and queues of over-excited, over-sugared children will wait for their moment to sit on Father Christmas’s knee and demand a list of goodies be delivered, whilst swearing that they have been good this year, really, really good. While you might think that the “white lie” of Father Christmas is OK, is this not also an early lesson in conning for the children, as we require that they tell the man in red that they have been good in exchange for the promise of goodies to come?

Father Christmas arrives in Adelaide 2009 - this might have been the year he fainted from the heat, distressing small children in the crowd! photo credit: Stephen Barnett

The tradition in our family is that the Christmas tree goes up after the Adelaide Pageant. That is the official start of the Christmas season for us, although several boxes of mince pies have already been bought and consumed, and I do already have a couple of presents hidden away. Soon the house will be full of little bits of glitter that have fallen off the decorations. We avoid the real tree, so no pine needles, but that fake slow is a killer to remove from windows after it has been baked in the harsh Australian sun for a month of two. Not to mention trodden into the carpets. Quite why an Australian Christmas would require fake snow is a question that has never been adequately answered. Surely we don’t still suffer from cultural cringe?

photo credit Shazzmack

The children have started their Christmas lists, They started them shortly after last Christmas, I think. Each year seems to increaingly focus on electronic goods – and hence gets more and more expensive. We stress that the Christmas list is a “wish list” not a shopping list. Hence son number three has started adding things to my shopping list instead. As if I might accidentally buy him an iphone or an ipad, just because it is on my list! Full marks for trying.

Other Christmas traditions are less embedded. Cards have been replaced by Christmas emails (or e-cards) and phone calls. For several years I bought cards and then didn’t quite get around to sending them. Eventually I just realised that I wasn’t going to, and hence sent the emails instead. At least they arrive. And on time. Sorry, Australia Post.

photo credit: Serendigity

With family scattered in different cities and states around the country we no longer have a tradition of the family Christmas lunch. We usually have a Christmas lunch with whoever is around, and then have a very informal dinner which involves grazing on left-overs. Often this involves drinks with the neighbours and a post-mortem on Christmas – what horrendous presents the children have been given (noisy, inappropriate, irritating, battery-requiring etc – my mother takes the cake for giving my 7 year-old children mobile phones), what terrible thing some relative said over lunch or on the annual Christmas phone call, who got drunk, etc.

A friend told me that after a couple of years of failed family Christmas lunches, she and her family decided to make their own tradition. They go camping every Christmas. No arguments about whose turn it is to host the lunch, which side of the family gets lunch or dinner. A limited opportunity to completely over-cater. Their children are now adults but the tradition continues.

So this year we decided to cut out the middle man and have lunch with the neighbours. And better still, we decided to find a hotel or restaurant open on Christmas day. And do you think we can find anywhere?

Surely we can’t be the only families in town wanting to have a no-fuss Christmas lunch, with no cooking, no cleaning up afterwards. You might not think it is the spirit of the season, but for two working mums, the idea of not doing housework on Christmas Day sounds heavenly.

Almost like Christmas, really.

What Christmas traditions do you celebrate in your family?