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If Santa wore his traditional fur-trimmed costume to Australia on Christmas Eve, he'd be one uncomfortable old elf! December 25th falls right in the middle of the Australian summer "down under", and daytime temperatures are likely to hover in the range of 100 to 110 degrees! We can imagine "Old St. Nick" making a quick change in the back of his sleigh as he glides south of the equator, and emerging on an Australian beach with his bag full of toys, sun- block, shorts and striped sailor top! Australian children delight at their warm-weather images of Santa. Because most Australians are of British origins, they strive to keep their Victorian traditions alive even in a very different cli- mate. A hot meal of turkey and plum pudding may be found on many a family menu, although just as many Australians are likely to enjoy their Christmas feast in the form of a picnic on the beach. As our Australian "Old St. Nick" illustrates in his choice of neck- wear, Christmas bells are a main decorative item at holiday time "down under". In addition, Australians adorn their homes with Christmas bushes, ferns, flowers and other foliage. There is one beloved holiday tradition shared around the world that had its origins in Australia. This is "Carols by Candlelight", initiated by radio announcer Norman Banks in the 1940s. Banks wrote his own simple "Melbourne Carol", which has been broadcast all over the world and recorded by choirs in various countries. Proceeds from the "Melbourne Carol" traditionally have benefited children with medical problems.
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