Home » Community Life, David Werdiger, Recent Posts

I’m dreaming of a white …

November 30, 2010 – 10:29 pm7 Comments

A promo from Charleston, South Carolina, that displays its humid sub-tropical climate that apparently allows for Chanukah parties on the beach

By David Werdiger

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 jbd.melbourne AT gmail.com.

Print Friendly


  • frosh says:

    It’s not as “Aussie” but my ideal Chanukah BBQ involves veggie burgers, rather than a “meat-fest” ;-)

    I also like to abstain from Hellenic customs for the 8 days.
    That means no naked athletics, no torch relays, no souvlaki (vegetarian or otherwise), no dancing to Zorba, no studying the Greek philosophers, and no acting in any Greek tragedy plays :-)

    But just for those 8 days ;-)

  • Shira Wenig says:

    In a shiur in Israel, I once asked a question about Chanukah lighting at Bnei camp. My american friends thought it was bizarre to have summer camp during chanukah.

    The downside of the antipodean chanukah experience is that candle lighting is way past kids bedtime.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    The true blue fair dinkum way

    Ice-cold beeries VBs mate, with a candle on each Darwin stubbie (gotta finish all the bottles before the candle-lighting), & a candle jammed in top of each.

    Light the shamash with an oxy-acet mate.

    Then another round of beeries and some them fried petater cakes dipped in non-West Bank Israeli jam.


  • Marky says:

    All you out there with nut allergies, keep away from the doughnuts..

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    How would I like to celebrate Chanukka and how I do are two totally different realities. Usually quietly at home, having latkes with some chicken wings and salad and then we light the chanukkiya and saying the appropriate blessings we watch the lights, I read my son some stirring stories with Chanukka like themes. We also google a range of Chanukka songs on Utube and vote for the best ones and run them again.
    I can hear the groans and the catcalls but you know what it is simple and we enjoy it and that is what matters.
    How would I like to celebrate Chanukka? Let me tell you the ways. I would like to be in my own house, in a settlement in Israel near Shechem or Jerusalem looking out over the hills. We have own own little chanukiya but there is also a large chanukiya at the gates of the settlement which we can see from our house. It is the first chanukiya lit and after a few songs and some food people go home to light their own chanukiyiot which incidently are not menorot which have only seven lights and not eight plus a shamesh.
    I am doing well because I have my own coaching college and a business doing editing and copy writing for companies advertising in the English speaking world. I have written several books. One non fiction on Bullying in the Education Profession. Another on recovery from the trauma of bullying. I have finished a slim volume called the Chronicles of Or (a fantasy parable) and am starting on a sequel. I have a book of poetry published and am compiling another. I have also an idea for a play about bullying and its impact on society.
    I have an open house and people are free to drop by for a meal and to chat.
    My son is going to an Israeli school where he is treated respectfully and is like any other kid. He has lots of friends. They are free to drop by and he is often out or has friends over. He is more fluent in Hebrew than English. He loves sport and reading. He plays drums and keyboard.
    On Chanukka we have lots of singing and a custom of giving something small to one friend on the first night and then each night after that we give a gift or do something positive for another friend so by the end of chanukka we have touched 36 people in a positive way even if it is someone who we haven’t seen for a while and we ring up or we we visit some one and give them chocolate coins or a flower or a smile.
    chag smeach

  • Judas MacDonaldus says:

    Frosh, did you see that post on Ajnwatch?

    Did the Yevonim triumph the Maccabees after all?

    Why the obsession of Chabad Houses with inviting AFL footballers to help celebrate our Chanukah celebrations?
    First it was Caulfield Chabad House advertising Chanukah in the Park featuring footballers and now Chabad of Malvern have decided to ape them.

    Don’t the organisers know anything about the festival? Haven’t they been taught that Chanukah is a celebration of the battle victories of Mattisyohu and his sons over the Greeks who were trying to force their culture upon us? Didn’t they learn that unlike Haman, the Yevonim were not out to physically harm the Jews. Their intention was purely להשכיחם תורתך ולהעבירם מחוקי רצונך – to turn Klall Yisroel away from the path of the Torah and lead them towards their lifestyle – a society where (amongst other things) sporting events were glorified and idolised. (Admittedly, here in Australia such events and participants are similarly treated, but Boruch Hashem there is no demand or compulsion for us to be part of it.

    So why are we handing the Yevonim and Misyavnim of today a victory on a platter? This is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what the rebbe wanted and expected from his followers.


    The latest rumor is that Chanukah on the park have cancelled the footy players because of that post

  • Judas MacDonaldus says:

    And now for a genuine true Aussie Jewish Xmas story..


Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.