Ice skating on Bondi Beach in Sydney in winter

The Backward Seasons

June 8, 2012

in Christmas in July, winter

This is the third complete cycle of seasons I’m experiencing in Oz. Winter just started and it’s been biting and blustery. I stepped outside in a jacket, scarf and gloves to start the commute to work yesterday and thought, “This feels like the East Coast in mid-November.”

“Cold” wasn’t a word I saw written anywhere in relation to Australia. Back in the States, I’d seen news videos of Aussies jumping into the water at Bondi on Christmas Day. I’d heard that there’s a lot of barbecuing, a lot of barefoot padding around and a lot of swimming, sailing and water sports. This all meant, in my mind, that it never gets cold.

But it does. And it’s timing, from about May through September, still throws me off even 2.5 years later.

Ice skating on Bondi Beach in Sydney in winter

Ice skating on Bondi Beach in June.

The smell of wood burning, the subtle turn of the leaves from green to red and gold, the chill on my neck and the space heater next to our couch make me think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I think of baking pumpkin and apple pies, putting on “hibernation weight” from eating all those pies and diving under duvets to stay warm. I think of the lead-up to Christmas, time off from work or school and lots of parties and office gatherings to celebrate the season.

It’s not how it happens here, in a place where Easter is in autumn, Halloween is in spring and New Year’s Day can be one of the hottest days of the year.

Having the cold season come in what I’ve always experienced as summer months is a strange, strange thing, especially when my Facebook feed starts getting cluttered with status updates from people back home about going to the beach, going for beers outside, heat waves and Phillies games. More than a few expat friends have said to me lately that this is the time of year that makes them feel homesick, not Thanksgiving or Christmas. Unlike American fall and winter, there is no string of holidays to look forward to in Australia this time of year. We have Monday off here in New South Wales this weekend, but other than that, no more holidays come up until October.

The good news is this tends to be the time of year when you see scores of cheap flights and holiday package deals, so if you want to escape to a warmer destination, you can. I at least have my trip to Hawaii to look forward to in about five weeks. In the weeks leading up to that trip, I have a ton of social outings planned on weekends. There is the Vivid light festival near the Opera House and Circular Quay, the jazz festival at Darling Harbour, a winter festival at Bondi and Christmas in July celebrations. It’s a nice way to break up the winter stretch.

Have you traveled to or lived in a country with opposite seasons from the ones you’ve always known? How does it make you feel?

Disclosure: I received compensation for a link in this post.

7 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Rebecca

    The lack of hols from Queens Birthday Weekend until Labour Day (last weekend in OCTOBER!) just killed me when I lived in NZ. 4 months, dead of winter and not a single holiday! And I thought we had it bad in the US from Feb until Memorial Day…at least it was spring-ish!

    1. Lauren Post author

      And NZ winter is even colder than Oz, so I can only imagine your pain. What did you do to keep busy? That stretch from Feb to May in the US was the worst when I was in school. I remember we threw a party senior year at the end of March cause we needed something fun to break up the lack of breaks.

  2. iliana

    Have not lived South of the Equator yet, but living for 18 months in AZ felt like a 18 months Summer vacation – never managed to focus really well at work, and a cactus instead of a Christmas tree was just not cutting it. Still, I enjoyed the experience 🙂

    1. Lauren Post author

      A cactus with Christmas lights, now that is a new kind of festive. Where in AZ were you? I never thought of it that way that having warm, sunny weather most of the time could prove to be a major barrier to anything productive (other than going in the pool and relaxing).

      1. iliana

        So true – the backward seasons, I just arrived in Melbourne and after an evening walk in the neighborhood I feels like Christmas is around the corner, but the calendar says 31 July…So odd! 🙂

        1. Lauren Post author

          It is freezing here in Sydney too — especially after coming back from Hawaii! Stay warm and cozy until the chill breaks.

  3. Pingback: Taking Advantage of Sydney Summertime

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