OK, yes, I am in Sydney for Christmas, but I wanted to talk about the decorations that go up in Melbourne for Christmas. In short: the city comes close to going all-out. While you do see the occasional “Joyous Festive Season!” wishes in a few places, for the most part its “Merry Christmas!” throughout the city.
At work, we legitimately have a Christmas tree. Not a festive tree, with ornaments and whatnot for the other holidays, a 100% pure [artificial] Christmas tree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in the US. The windows of Myer on Bourke Street remind me of the windows of the departments stores in New York, but they actually tell a story and have an ungodly long queue to see. City Hall puts on an impressive light show, even if it is all projected. It still must have taken a very long time to program.
City [Christmas] Square is home to Melbourne’s real Christmas tree. It’s pretty big, but not as big as New York’s.
Federation Square has 100 [fake] trees, which makes for an impressive number and a small forest of trees in a usually open area. Flinders Street Station makes it the most obvious the Melbourne is a city that celebrates Christmas almost exclusively with its giant Merry Christmas on Elizabeth Street. In the US, you see a bit more variety in the holiday decorations, no doubt helped by actually having decorations for the other holidays in December.
Unless you live in Hawaii or some other warm part of the US during winter, it’s also more than a little weird seeing Christmas decorations up while you’re wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I think it did take me a good week to get used to it. And now that I am, I’d much rather it always be like that. Call me a buzzkill, but I hate snow. I’m perfectly fine with it not being a white Christmas. While I may call a 60*F morning in Melbourne “cold”, it’s better than what I like to call “butt-ass freezing”, otherwise known as close to/at/just below 32*F/0*C. I’ll withhold saying what I call anything below 20*F.
Now, venturing aside from talking about the decorations (you can see more of them here; scroll down about halfway through the set), this is my first Christmas I’m not spending with family. That really is a weird feeling now that I think about it. Even with university in the US, I’ve always been home for Christmas. While Christmas has become “play with the new gadgets and games” day in recent years, it was still a day spent at home. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the hell I’m going to do in Sydney on Christmas day. Many of the places to go see are closed, and rightfully so. There actually appears to be way more New Year’s Eve (simply called NYE) banners than any for Christmas. Not including the one in the hotel lobby, I’ve seen all of two Christmas trees in Sydney. Town Hall here also has projected lights, David Jones has decorated store windows, and there’s some fireworks on a couple nights. That’s all I’ve seen here for Christmas. Public Transport isn’t even free on Christmas Day in Sydney (I really wish it was as I’d have something to do on Christmas).
So, in closing, it’s been interesting to see Christmas in Australia. Now being in Sydney for it, I now know that Melbourne appears to get much more into celebrating it than Sydney does. And I’m not at all missing the snow back home.