The chagim are spread widely across the calendar year, with the “major” ones like Pesach and the High Holydays falling usually around April and September. These correspond to the seasons of autumn and spring in Australia, and the reverse in the northern hemisphere. Since the weather is usually ambivalent during those times, and they are close to the equinox, the difference between the experiences in each hemisphere is not great.
Chanukah, on the other hand, falls during summer down under, and in winter in the northern hemisphere. This makes for a radically different experience. While other countries may dream of a white Chanukah, we generally associate them with hot weather, late summer nights, and barbeques.
The uniquely antipodean cultural associations with Chanukah make a huge contrast for people who come here from other countries. For those who light candles at dusk, there is no need to rush home like crazy Friday afternoons during winter. Indeed, summer afternoons with the added bonus of daylight savings mean there is ample opportunity for post-work Chanukah functions (as well as the mandatory end-of-year drinking sessions that seem to fill our calendars at these times). Imagine staging the events like the outdoor Chanukah in the Park with everyone rugged up in warm coats and snow everywhere.
And then there is the great Aussie Chanukah barbie. This is one of the times our large family all get together for a huge meat-fest, with latkes as the principle side-dish, and hot fresh doughnuts for dessert. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
How do you celebrate Chanukah “Australian-style”?
David is chairman of JBD – Jews of the CBD, which has this year organized a series of after-work doughnut and latke gatherings, in all corners of the Melbourne CBD. For more information, contact president AT jbd.org.au.
The article originally appeared on Galus Australis, and the article image is taken from there.