Let me tell you one thing. Do you guys celebrate Halloween? No, right? Christmas seems to be a Halloween for me. I have seen in movies, read in books and heard so many Christmas stories. That's all. I come from a place in India where people have only heard about Christmas in TV and it is a public holiday (Yay..another holiday!) in India.
In India, I guess we have much grander (Can I say that with modesty?) festivals which are celebrated over a week's period. We have at least 5 or 6 major festivals when the whole atmosphere catches you. I could see a similar frenzy only during Christmas when people rush in and say, 'I gotta do Christmas Shopping', 'I gotta to plan for Christmas party' etc.
Even though I have studied in two Christian schools, no one has ever forced us to celebrate Christmas. And even though I have many good Christian friends, I have not gone to celebrate Christmas - so, I am totally blank about Christmas. In Bangalore, we used to have our neighbours. They invited us few times, I was always busy doing something or the other in office.
I have few school memories. Usually, we will have study holidays during this season - so, in my hostel, we used to celebrate "suppose Christmas" - a special lunch for non-Christian students (Christian students hostel used to be separate) during the first week of December before we go on a holiday.
In my experience, Christmas in India has the typical very colourful flavour of any other Indian festival with decorative materials, stars and lights etc. People gather with their family and relatives like any other Indian festival. Indian families tend to meet more often (at least once in a month), so, we do not consider Christmas gathering as any special.
Here in Australia, it is really weird - it is truly a shopping phenomenon. People do plenty of shopping. People flock around discounts, after-Christmas sales will start after Boxing day (mid 12 o clock) to buy products just because they come in with 50% discounts. I bought a digital camera during my first Christmas sale year, and it turned to be faulty. When I tried to return it, the shopkeeper said, 'Sorry - we don't exchange it!'. And the family gathers for the once-in-year for Christmas - drink
plenty, eat plenty - thats all. At least, thats how it looks like to me as an outsider.
Hamilton seems to be very conservative country town and people are sincerely decorating their houses (I have not seen that in Adelaide). The campaign "Put Christ back into Christmas" has been introduced this year. Christmas carols, parades and everyone is excited about the upcoming holidays. People are asking me to come their homes if I am not going anywhere. It's all still new to me, I am just watching.