I returned to work this week after more than three weeks off. I don’t think I’ve had this much time off with no ‘real goal’ in mind ever – except perhaps when I was unemployed. In the midst of lockdown (only essential shops open, restaurants takeaway only, restrictions on visiting people), there was nowhere to travel, no one to catch up with and being winter, very little to do.
I thought it would drag. But all of a sudden, it was over and I was back to work.
They allowed us out of lockdown for December 24 and 25 so Christmas could be celebrated in a semi-normal way. There were limitations on how many people you could see at one time, but since my family here is on the small side anyway, we spent Christmas pretty much in the same was as always: Covid test in the morning, gathering in the early afternoon, singing Silent Night, opening presents and eating together. Oh… wait… the Covid test, that was something new for this year.
Returning after a holiday always leads to a multitude of questions: How was it? What did you do? And you answer: Yeah, it was awesome! We did heaps of cool stuff! But where do you go after that? How do you pick out just a few notables that that particular person might be interested in hearing about?
Well, I just spend a month in Australia. And it was awesome! And we did heaps of cool stuff! And if you really want to know more, keep reading!
Well, after 4 years it’s finally happening – we’re going to Oz for Christmas.
Although I can’t say I absolutely hate the warm coziness of being inside on Christmas Day while the weather outside freezes the landscape white – somehow it seems much more like the movies – but damn I’m looking forward to going back to the Aussie traditions of a Christmas morning swim, and it being too hot to roast inside. Better do it on the Barbie!
As autumn winds down and the first frosts hit, it is a sure sign that winter is coming. Yet not everything about winter has to be cold and horrible. With the air cool and crisp and the first flakes of snow threatening, December is one of the most beautiful months to be in Europe – with Christmas markets aplenty!
Austrians have some strange folklore, but perhaps the one which is the most disturbing, especially for kids, is the Krampus. Saint Nicholas is the good guy that rewards the well-behaved kids with gifts on December 6th. But instead of simply telling kids in Austria that he simply won’t come if they are naughty, what they get told is the following:
“If you are naughty the Krampus will find you, pack you in his sack, and take you back with him to hell.”Continue reading →
Are Austrian work Christmas parties any different to Australian ones? I found out last year – and rest assured I’ll do a better job this year!
I was full of nervous excitement about my first Austrian work Christmas party. Excited because it was a night of eating good food, drinking and dancing, nervous because I’d only been with the company a month, and my German was not quite ready for drunken conversations.
Austrians don’t really do dessert on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean they miss out.
For the entire month of December (and as long as they last after) Austrians bake truckloads Christmas cookies. They are everywhere – in shops, at work… and especially in people’s homes. Be prepared to be offered massive platefuls wherever you go. Continue reading →
From my one Christmas spent in Austria, my impression is that they take it a lot more seriously than we do in Oz. To be fair, I suppose if you have kids it’s a different story, but even without young kids they seem to take it seriously here.
I’m talking about Christmas Markets. In Europe around Christmas the streets come alive in the evening with brightly lit markets and stalls squatting out in the cold, snowy streets.
The light fades early here, around 4pm and the temperature drops as soon as the sun disappears, but in European towns and villages, the locals rug up and head out for a night of festivities and celebrations. Continue reading →