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twiggy

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Homework help, Australian culture
« on: April 21, 2013, 10:46:26 PM »
I know that we have a lot of Australian ehellions, so I figured this is as good a resource as any for an assignment. I need to write a paper on Australian culture. So, what interesting things are there that are different in Australia vs. United States?

How are holidays celebrated?
In the US we stay up all night on New Year's Eve, then ring in the New Year at midnight. There are fireworks and drinking associated with the holiday. Is it different in Australia?
Christmas, Easter...are there any Australian specific traditions?
What do you do for Australia Day?

What stereotypes about Australia make Australians roll their eyes?

What is more commonly accepted/expected, cohabitation or marriage?

What wedding traditions are there? I seem to recall that showers are not as common, and that in lieu of bachelor/bachelorette parties there are hen/stag nights where everyone that honestly sound similar to the US counterparts.

anything else that should be included?

Thanks to all, I would much rather talk to actual people than google everything. It gives a better picture :)
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

MsMarjorie

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 11:41:31 PM »
We (as in Aussies) don't seem to "do" holidays the same way Americans do.  We don't decorate our houses for Australia Day or Easter but we do for Christmas (which we call Chrissie).

Yes its a big party on NYE - usually fireworks somewhere, always drinking.
Christmas is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  Christmas Day involves people getting together and eating, drinking and swapping presents.  The shops are shut for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Australia Day, (I'm in Western Australia) there is a big fireworks display in the city centre (Perth) and many people go there, make a day of it, picnics, barbeques and of course drinking.

I can't think of any stereotypes of Aussies that make me roll my eyes, most are pretty accurate!  Though I must admit that the episode The Simpsons did of Australia annoyed me, everything about that was wrong except the accents.

People both cohabit and marry, neither are questioned as far I know.

We don't go to church like Americans seem to.

Weddings seem very different here to me (but it may be regional).  When I read the wedding threads here, sometimes I think my head is going to explode.  There are no enormous costs entailed that the bridal party has to pay for.  Showers are around and it isn't unusual to have one or not - they aren't huge costly things, with favours and decorations etc.  Usually just a get together with food and small gift exchanges.

The hen and stag nights usually involve just dinner and a nightclub, people pay their own way.

We chat to strangers in supermarkets, pubs and parks.  There is very definitely a drinking culture, I'd like to say just among young people, but really amongst all age levels.  Its one of the most expensive places to live and that stresses people out, but most people are really easy-going.  We have a large Asian influence, as we are in the Asian part of the world, with food and culture.  Chinese New Year gets a pretty big celebration, as in a party in the city and fireworks around the place. 

High school is compulsory until age 18 or until a trade is undertaken.  Most people are pretty well educated, our universities are fantastic and whilst we have to pay for them, the costs are reasonable. 

There is a thing called "the tall poppy syndrome" wherein, if someone becomes successful and too boastful (or full of themselves as we say) then they must be "brought down", but I don't know if that's as prevalent as it used to be.

We can discuss politics without an enormous fight breaking out as we all hate our politicians equally  ;)

Iris

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2013, 12:01:39 AM »
Note - this is a big country, all answers from the point of view of a relatively urban New South Welshperson.

New Year's Eve is the same - fireworks and staying up until (at least) midnight. It is worth noting that fireworks are banned for personal use in many states so fireworks are usually big, public displays. The Sydney Harbour fireworks are quite well known (and heaps of fun if you don't mind the transport nightmare) but there are smaller versions all around. There are usually earlier (around 9pm) fireworks so families with children can go home early if they choose and then bigger ones at midnight.

Christmas is in the middle of summer so more and more people are doing without the roast or having it cold and eating outside. We usually get together with family on Christmas day. There are a few Australian Christmas Carols (I've never known a kid that didn't love 6 White Boomers) but mostly it's basically a traditional European Christmas adapted for the heat.

Easter is fairly standard.

Australia Day most people have bbqs with friends. It's been harder to have picnics etc in the last few years because it's gaining popularity among bogans as a chance to drink themselves stupid and make nuisance of themselves  ::). There are often fireworks as well.

I don't think you'd find an Australian stereotype that doesn't make SOMEONE roll their eyes, but it may be true for someone else. It's a big country and there are all types, from the broooooaaad accent RM Williams wearing country farmer to the have-never-been-outside-a-capital-city types. Important facts: there are no kangaroos in cities and drop bears aren't real  ;)

Cohabiting or marriage is fine, no-one cares much. Our current prime minister is a cohabiting atheist and hardly anyone cares.

Most migrants settle in the capital cities, often Sydney, which I think is actually really sad because it a) allows a certain section of society to remain what I have heard described as 'comfortably racist' and b) it means that I have a limited choice in quality ethnic foods except for when I am down in Sydney, although both situations are slowly improving.

The only big difference that I think I have noticed with weddings is that it is quite acceptable here with church weddings to 'go and see' the wedding. I've heard ehellions describing rude people turning up at the church uninvited whereas here that is perfectly okay. One friend of mine whose father was the organist at our local church provided champagne and light snacks in the church ground after the wedding because they (correctly) knew ALL the parishioners would want to see the organist's daughter get married. This is not at all considered A or B list etc and was in reality considered a nice touch.

I'm sure there's more but that's probably a good start. Feel free to ask other questions.

Oops, MsMarjorie posted while I was typing. Sorry for any repetitions. I disagree with the politics though. The current federal election is getting fairly heated around here and the way most people discuss it politely is to change the subject :) In the past though I would have agreed.
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CakeEater

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2013, 12:09:27 AM »
I know that we have a lot of Australian ehellions, so I figured this is as good a resource as any for an assignment. I need to write a paper on Australian culture. So, what interesting things are there that are different in Australia vs. United States?

How are holidays celebrated?
In the US we stay up all night on New Year's Eve, then ring in the New Year at midnight. There are fireworks and drinking associated with the holiday. Is it different in Australia? Same deal
Christmas, Easter...are there any Australian specific traditions? Christmas is in the middle of summer, so outdoors celebrations, often a BBQ or seafood are common. It's also in the middle of the big school holiday for the year, so many families are away for holidays either before or after Christmas. No-one I know calls it Chrissie.
What do you do for Australia Day?Go to the beach, local coucils often have breakfast BBQs at local parks, naturalisation ceremonies for new Australians, a youth radio station has a top 100 countdown that many of the younger generation listen to.

We don't celebrate as many holidays, or as much, it seems. It's very rare to decorate for halloween, or to encounter trick or treaters. Valentine's Day is for romantic partners only, and it's less of a huge deal.

What stereotypes about Australia make Australians roll their eyes?Kangaroos in the main street, mostly.

What is more commonly accepted/expected, cohabitation or marriage?Both are very common and widely accepted.

Australians do go to church, but as a whole, I believe society is generally much more secular than in many regions of the US. It would be very unusual for people to discuss church-going as a conversational opener like I've seen described here.

What wedding traditions are there? I seem to recall that showers are not as common, and that in lieu of bachelor/bachelorette parties there are hen/stag nights where everyone that honestly sound similar to the US counterparts. Weddings are similar, but don't seem to have all the layers of parties that you guys have, although they're catching on. Rehearsal dinners are not as common, or as formal. We don't have a choice of meals at receptions. 

anything else that should be included? Probably the love/hate relationship that Australia has with US culture. There are stacks of US content on TV and in movies, so trends tend to move here. Australian slang has been more and more replaced with American slang. I suspect that more school children would be able to tell you who Barack Obama is than know who the premier of their own state is. I probably know more about the geography of New York, than about most Australian cities. And the more we are saturated in it, the more some love it, some hate it and some resent that fact that they love it.

Politics is less polarizing, and Australians are a lot less demonstrative about their politicians than we see on TV coverage of US politics.

Tertiary education isn't as much of a 'rite of passage' thing that it seems to be in the US. High school granduations are practically non-events, and parents don't start saving at conception to send their children 'to college'. You can attend university and defer your tuition costs until you're working and earning money. Universities are mainly seen as a step toward getting a job rather than just 'being at college.'



Thanks to all, I would much rather talk to actual people than google everything. It gives a better picture :)

katycoo

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2013, 12:23:13 AM »
Australia has a much lower conservative religious population.  I'd say over 50% still identify as religious, but more than half of those would be non-practising regardless of the religion.
There is no social stigma in any area with respect to being Athiest.
The above mean that there is no stimga regarding church attendance or non-attendance, or pre-wedlock cohabitation or procreation.

NYE:  Sydney is the first major city to celebrate NYE in the world (sorry NZ, you don't spend enough).  We have a HUGE fireworks display (Harbour Bridge fireworks are super impressive) and it often make international news.  You can probably find past footage on You Tube. 

Otherwise holidays are much less celebrated than in the States.

Christmas and Easter are both quite family-centric but its not necessarily expected that peopel living interstate will all travel to be together.  Certainly not every year.

Halloween and St Patrick's Day are pretty much non-events (unless you host a party or are going to be in an Irish pub).  Valentine's is tokenistic.  People might do dinner or small gifts but its not any big deal.

We mark Rememberance Day on 11 November along with everyone else, but we also have ANZAC Day on 25 April which we share with NZ and is our own persoanl military rememberance day.  There are services all over the country.  You can read more info about it here: http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac_tradition.asp
ANZAV Day is a public holiday, Rememberance Day is not.

We also have a public holiday for the Queen's Birthday in June, but noone cares about ceklebrating the Queen, its just a day off work.

The fianl national holiday is Australia Day on 26 January which you can read about here: http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/history.aspx 
It is most often celebrated with friends around a BBQ.

Australia is also generally less patriotic than the USA.  We like our country just fine, but we don't feel the need to shout about it.  And we don't think we're the best at everything - because we aren't, and can't be.  We just strive to be better.  Tall-Poppy syndrome comes into this.  And it is totally still prevalent, despite being nonsensical to a degree.  But how it plays out is that basically anyone who becomes successful must remain modest.  WE can think you're great, but as soon as YOU think you're great, we don't like you any more.

We also have ludicrously high expectations of our sportspersons in arenas where we have come to expect the best - ie. swimming.  When our men's 4x100 relay came second, the first journalist question to the final leg swimmer was "Are you dissapointed with silver?"
That's something I'd like to see change.

People generally move interstate less.  America is bigger and has more cities and people seem to move a lot further away from home.  Travelling interstate for college is not the norm here.  And while people certainly do move interstate, it seems far less prevalent.  I think generally there are less national companies with offices in each major city to warrant people needing to move for work.  Most national companies are based in Sydney or Melbourne.

Australis generally doesn't have a lot of "traditions".  We're quite multicultural so  there's not much that is done by people across the board.

Weddings will usually have a  kitchen tea (like a bridal shower but only small gifts), hens and bucks nights (same as bachelor/bachelorette parties) but how big these are varies.  Some are whole weekends, some are nights out.  They're more activity based than just hitting clubs these days.  Not gifts at these.
Actual weddings are usually only a day event.  We don't have rehearsal dinners (or if there is something, its only for the people actually at the rehearsal and its casual.  IE.  My in-laws had my parents and the bridal party and partners over for drinks and nibbles afterwards.)  Bridal parties are generally smaller.  More than 4 on each side is unusual.  2-3 is common.  There might be a casual BBQ the next day for immediate family to open gifts.

Sterotypes - generally that we're backwards, uncultured, lawless, drunken uneducated farmers.  But that perception is changing.  And the drinking is probably not unwarranted.

I must say, I think the binge drinking aspect of our drinking culture is shifting.  While it is common to celebrate (or socialise) with alcohol, that doesn't translate to getting maggoted.

MsMarjorie

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2013, 12:25:45 AM »

Christmas, Easter...are there any Australian specific traditions? Christmas is in the middle of summer, so outdoors celebrations, often a BBQ or seafood are common. It's also in the middle of the big school holiday for the year, so many families are away for holidays either before or after Christmas. No-one I know calls it Chrissie.



I'm shocked CakeEater, shocked I tell you!  :)  Have you never had a checkout operator asked you "Whatcha doing for Chrissie?"

A couple of youtube video's that you might like to watch twiggy are;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGETRI81DE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdihHnaOQsk

The book by Anh Do "The Happiest Refugee" is an amazing and insightful read also.


twiggy

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2013, 12:29:24 AM »
Oh, I forgot that the seasons are opposite of what I'm used to. Guess you're not really dreaming of a white Christmas then :)

Thank you so much, I really appreciate the insight :) talking to real, live people is a lot more enlightening than the Google. I meant to ask my BIL about his experiences since he's currently living in Frankston (?) on the coast, serving a mission for our church, but he doesn't have much time at the computer to respond to email.

Would people in Melbourne agree with his assessment that many seem to be atheists? Or is his view colored since virtually all of his interactions are focused on religion?
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

katycoo

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2013, 12:32:34 AM »
Oh, I forgot that the seasons are opposite of what I'm used to. Guess you're not really dreaming of a white Christmas then :)

Thank you so much, I really appreciate the insight :) talking to real, live people is a lot more enlightening than the Google. I meant to ask my BIL about his experiences since he's currently living in Frankston (?) on the coast, serving a mission for our church, but he doesn't have much time at the computer to respond to email.

Would people in Melbourne agree with his assessment that many seem to be atheists? Or is his view colored since virtually all of his interactions are focused on religion?

I'm not in Melbourne, but the answer is yes.  Though you'll find more Agnostics than outright Athiests.

figee

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2013, 12:40:51 AM »
I know that we have a lot of Australian ehellions, so I figured this is as good a resource as any for an assignment. I need to write a paper on Australian culture. So, what interesting things are there that are different in Australia vs. United States?

1.  How are holidays celebrated?

2.  What stereotypes about Australia make Australians roll their eyes?

3.  anything else that should be included?


1.  Remember everything is reversed - Christmas is in summer, our long school break is over summer.  BBQs or cold meats are more accepted by some for Christmas.  The Easter Bilby anyone????

ANZAC Day is the other big national event.  It's on this Thursday and is worth investigating.

2.  We do speak English, not Australian, Austrian or anything else.  We have electricity.  We don't see kangaroos everywhere.  We don't all carry knives.  We don't always throw a shrimp on the barbie.

3.  We aren't as religious as Americans are and have a very distinctive history.  We are different from Americans.  Vegemite is important.  Our sense of humour is quite different - we are a little more sarcastic and laconic and find that Americans are sometimes very over the top and over friendly - that tends to make us suspicious.  We also have a lot of poisonous and deadly animals.  We don't have the attachment to guns that Americans do, and we don't have the 'right to bear arms'.  We find the insistence and attachment of some Americans to this bewildering, terrifying and somewhat tragic.  Our political system is dramatically different, as is our healthcare, education and social welfare system.  We are not a little country - we are a land of vast and open spaces.  Perth is closer to South Africa than to other capital cities in Australia.  We were recently described as being a people who are 'comfortably racist' and I think its a fair description.

Thongs are worn on the feet - they are not an item of underwear.  A rubber is an eraser.  Trackie dacks and ugg boots are important with a flanno (flannelette shirt) and driving a ute (utility vehicle, your pick-ups). 

On preview, its kind of nice to see that we Aussies are hitting off the same things.

Bluenomi

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2013, 12:48:23 AM »
Important facts: there are no kangaroos in cities and drop bears aren't real  ;)

Actually there are kangaroos in cities, you've just got to be in the right ones. We had kangaroos on campus at my uni in Canberra, always fun when stumbling back to ressies after a night at the uni bar  ;D

New Years is usually about drinking, fireworks and bringing the New Year. Easter is mostly about eating chocolate and enjoying the long weekend since we get public holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Christmas isn't aa big a deal as it is in the US and very hot so more about seafood than hot turkeys. We don't bother much about Halloween.
Australia Day is all about bbqs and enjoying the day off and sunshine.

Cohabitation before or instead of marriage is common

Hen/stage nights are pretty much the same as the US versions and some people have bridal showers but they are usually small (mine was a Tpperware party!) Rehersal dinners are pretty unheard of. The actually wedding day usually has the ceremony followed (often a few hours later) by the reception. Non religious, outside of a church weddings are as common as church weddings.

I've never heard of anyone having a graduation party for either school or university, it's not seen as such a big deal, maybe because uni isn't as costly!

Religion isn't a big a thing to most people as it is in the US (or appears to be). Yes there are groups of devout people of various religions about but mostly you find the more casual only go at Christmas and Easter types. I know in my age group (30s) there are more and more athesists/agnostics popping up.

Cuddlepie

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2013, 12:50:17 AM »
Yes, Chrissy (that I spell it) is widely used in my circle rather than Christmas.  My family tends to enjoy a typically English Christmas lunch with the turkey, ham, roast vegetables and plum pudding no matter how hot it is !!! 

Australia Day is usally a BBQ with friends and a game of backyard cricket or football (not American but Aussie footy).

Easter is when a lot of Aussies go camping over the long week-end before the weather turns cooler.

I would say the most Australians are not religous but are not heathens either.  Guess you could say that we believe in the Christian 10 Commandments as by following them, the world just runs better, YKWIM?

Most Aussies I know will stop to help a stranger, talk any stranger's ear off and definitely enjoy a good laugh, even at themselves. 

katycoo

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2013, 12:50:48 AM »
1.  Remember everything is reversed - Christmas is in summer, our long school break is over summer.  BBQs or cold meats are more accepted by some for Christmas.  The Easter Bilby anyone????

My Dad is ALL ABOUT the Easter Bilby.

We don't always throw a shrimp on the barbie.

We don't even call them shirmp!  They're always prawns!

twiggy

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2013, 12:52:47 AM »
1.  Remember everything is reversed - Christmas is in summer, our long school break is over summer.  BBQs or cold meats are more accepted by some for Christmas.  The Easter Bilby anyone????

My Dad is ALL ABOUT the Easter Bilby.

We don't always throw a shrimp on the barbie.

We don't even call them shirmp!  They're always prawns!

What's an Easter Bilby? Is that like the bunny?
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

katycoo

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2013, 12:53:40 AM »
Trackie dacks and ugg boots are important with a flanno (flannelette shirt) and driving a ute (utility vehicle, your pick-ups). 

Actually I'd say this falls into the sterotype category...  moreso if you added a pack of winnie red rolled into the sleeve...

Flannies, uggs and trackies are all, IMO, inside wear.

katycoo

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Re: Homework help, Australian culture
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2013, 12:55:54 AM »
1.  Remember everything is reversed - Christmas is in summer, our long school break is over summer.  BBQs or cold meats are more accepted by some for Christmas.  The Easter Bilby anyone????

My Dad is ALL ABOUT the Easter Bilby.

We don't always throw a shrimp on the barbie.

We don't even call them shirmp!  They're always prawns!

What's an Easter Bilby? Is that like the bunny?

A Bilby is a small Australia marsupial.  While we have the Easter Bunny here, Darrell Lea and Cadbury make a chocolate Easter Bilby for the diehard Aussies.  Outside of the chocolate, its not really a thing.