I’ve spent many years championing the benefits of the hot Christmases we enjoy in Australia – the outdoor activities, the possibility of a dip in the ocean and the very traditional Christmas lunch of barbecued chickens, my Aunt’s awesome cabbage and Chang’s noodle salad.
This year however, I’ll be attempting a white Christmas– and I’m excited. Here’s why you should consider jetting north for a cold, white Christmas.
It is seemingly a law that every major town in Europe must have a Christmas market, or risk being removed from the EU (I’m just guessing here). Christmas markets are, and I don’t want to be hyperbolic here, the BEST. You get to stand outside clutching mulled wine in your gloved hands, breathing frosty air and choosing which of the many and varied hot treats you’d like to eat next. If you’re lucky, there will be an adjoining ice rink, and after a few hot vinos give you confidence, you can embarrass yourself with attempts at pirouettes and unintentional impersonations of Blades of Glory. The sun goes down early in northern hemisphere winter, so it’s dark from around 4pm onwards. Wondering what to do with your long cold nights? Christmas markets are the answer – and a pretty good answer at that.
It’s hard enough to get a traditional-style Christmas going in Australia, with the wine inadvertently mulling itself under the scorching sun and the sweaty Santa Claus melting under the polyester suit. (Hot tip: the pillow-belly will act as an sponge for all your sweat. Do not use your own. Or so I heard.) Fake snow is quite literally the sad icing on the whole hot Christmas affair. Naturally, when you get up into the northern hemisphere there is REAL snow. And real snow means many things – snowball fights, building of snow-people, heaps of jokes about yellow snow, and so on. It opens up a world of possibilities for post-Christmas-lunch entertainment and looks pretty awesome for your Christmas photos. But seriously – don’t eat the yellow snow.
Snow also lends a huge amount of legitimacy to the Santa story and the idea of presents being delivered on a sleigh. If Santa were to try and land his sleigh on the crunchy, dry grass of a front lawn in Australia – let’s just say Santa would probably have a large insurance claim as well as a bad case of whiplash.
The snowy conditions mean that houses actually have chimneys that Santa could go down – which seems a lot more plausible than Santa delivering presents via the ducting of your reverse cycle air conditioning unit. And we all know that if there are no presents, then Christmas is basically just a day where you have to see your extended family and not get rewarded for it. The entire Christmas story is a lot more plausible in a cold climate – and Christmas carols make a whole lot more sense too.
In the southern hemisphere our steamy Christmases mean backyard cricket, pool volleyball and gathering around the barbie, sinking tinnies and turning snags. All this gets in the way of what Christmas is really about – gorging yourself on more food than you would normally eat in a week, washing it all down with a healthy dose of day-time drinking and then lying on the couch for several hours, moaning and rubbing your belly. In the northern hemisphere there is no such distraction. It’s like an all day lock-in where you are forced to do nothing but ingest and imbibe.
If you must get outside, reference point two – the snow. Snow makes all normal activities like walking, rolling down hills and throwing stuff much more fun. And if you go far enough north you can participate in dog sledding, which is basically where you pretend to be Santa (minus the presents and massive gut. Actually there may be a gut depending on aforementioned food binging). Here’s a picture of me dog sledding. It was a lot less embarrassing than the other time I pretended to be Santa, which involved me sweating a lot, getting a sore throat from putting on a gruff voice and slow dancing with my grandma (it’s a family tradition, don’t ask)
Nothing can truly prepare you for the sight of your extended family in their swimwear. You’ll become familiar with birthmarks and snail trails and varicose veins on family members you barely speak to between holidays – as they festively bomb into the pool on Christmas day. Thankfully in the northern hemisphere, Christmas jumpers cover all. They are also festive, warm and back in fashion in an ironic-hipster kind of way. There is a lot to love about winter attire – bulky wool shrouds the extra helping of lunch you had (okay fine, extra three helpings) and you can indulge safe in the knowledge that swimwear season is at least six months away – and you’ll probably get a gym membership along with all the other chumps in the new year anyway.
There was a great saying I learned when I lived in Sweden – it roughly translates to “it’s not cold, you’re just not wearing the right clothes”, and then probably “idiot” on the end. Swedes are not known for their tact. You might be scared of a white Christmas because you think you’re going to spend it shivering and turning blue-lipped – but if you get enough Christmas sweaters on and a light mulled-wine glow you’ll be fine.
So don’t fear a cold Christmas. Even if it’s cold outside, you’ll find warmth among friends, family, food and a whole heap of hot wine. Plus you’re way more likely to see Santa, if you believe in that kind of thing. Jury’s still out, as far as I’m concerned.
(Lead image: @thelittlenell )
This post was originally published on December 10th, 2014 and has since been updated.