Like public holidays, my yearly calendar is marked with cherished annual traditions. Call me sentimental, but they mean a lot to me. Whether it’s carving pumpkins with the best work crew you could assemble each October, chowing down on a hot dog (veggie, of course) while watching a Jays game at the Skydome each summer, or catching the late show of whichever Hollywood blockbuster happens to be out with my sister after stuffing ourselves with Christmas dinner – I have extremely fond memories of these annual events and eagerly look forward to them each year.
Moving to Australia, however, has turned many of my traditions on their head. Part of this is due to geography. Living south of the equator means seasons are in reverse, and this alters the appropriateness of some traditions. Like ugly Christmas sweater parties. Doesn’t make much sense when Christmas falls in the dead of summer (though ‘Christmas in July’ celebrations are pretty common as a result).
Some things, like Halloween, aren’t as popular here. Though it’s growing in popularity (particularly with school-aged kids), Halloween decorations don’t blanket the city the way they do at home. Parties for adults are hard to come by, and most assume costumes are meant to be scary (think witches, vampires and Walking Dead-esque zombies) – no clever costumes with pop culture references here.
Other traditions that I have managed to retain have received an Australian makeover. Like the annual eating of pie on Pi Day (otherwise known as March 14th). Though traditionally, I have celebrated this delicious holiday by indulging in sweet pies, like apple or pecan, this year my significant other and I ate Aussie-style meat pies instead (though I’ll bet some ‘true blue’ Aussies would have a problem with my version of a meat pie, which was made with a gluten free crust and filled with curried vegetables instead of meat).
Easter was last weekend, and though I don’t have any real traditions affiliated with this holiday, for me, it has always marked the beginning of spring. It’s a time when Torontonians foolishly hope the last snowfall is behind us and warmer, sunnier days are to come.
In Melbourne, on the other hand, Easter is usually one of the last nice weekends before fall descends, so it makes sense that locals have their own outdoor traditions to accompany the long weekend. I was lucky to be introduced to two of them this year.
One of these annual traditions belongs to my significant other’s childhood friends; for more than a decade they have held an annual Good Friday tennis tournament. They’re all relatively skilled players, and despite jovial banter to downplay its importance, it’s a competition they take fairly seriously. I’m not a particularly good tennis player but I enjoy a hit, so I was thrilled to receive an invitation from the boys and be included in this tradition.
One of my colleagues also holds an annual tennis tournament of a slightly different variety – she and her husband host a Table Tennis Cup. So after watching my significant other defeat all of his friends in tennis (as it turned out, my invitation was to watch the tennis tournament, not participate…I guess not everyone is flexible with their traditions), we changed clothes and went to a slightly more inclusive tournament at my colleague’s house.
Their tournament was of the round robin variety, so regardless of skill level, everyone got a chance to play. Both my colleague and her husband are keen foodies, so in between matches there was plenty of delicious food to snack on. And her sister, in addition to being a lovely person, brought her gaming console for all to play.
Good food, good people, and a ‘sport’ I’m okay at – I think I like this tradition. Hopefully we snag another invitation next year.