AE 629 – Interview: Celebrating Christmas & New Year’s in Australia vs Brazil with Kel Smissen

Learn Australian English in this interview episode where I talk about celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in Australia vs Brazil with Kel Smissen.

AE 629 – Interview: Celebrating Christmas & New Year's in Australia vs Brazil with Kel Smissen transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

AE 629 – Interview: Celebrating Christmas & New Year's in Australia vs Brazil with Kel Smissen was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

G'day, guys! What's going on? Welcome to today's interview episode where I have the chance to sit down with my beautiful wife, whilst our mischievous son Noah is sleeping, and today we get to talk all about Christmas and the New Year's celebrations and how they differ between Brazil and Australia. So, without any further ado, guys, let's get into it.

All right, guys, we have just put Noah to sleep.

Trying to.

Trying to.

We've got a little... What would you call it? Like, a little remote control thing. Monitor. Where you can watch him rolling around in bed using an infra-red camera. It's a little creepy, but it helps us know whether or not he's sleeping.

Whether or not we have to go and do something.

Yep. Anyway, so I got you on today, excuse me, because I thought it'd be cool to talk about differences culturally between Brazil and Australia for Christmas and New Year's. So, what was Christmas like for you growing up? And you guys call it Natal?

Natal, yeah. I think the first thing is that we celebrate it on the 24th.

So the 24th is a bigger day for you guys?

Yes. Because we... at least in my family, we would be cooking for the whole day, cleaning the house, and, you know, just getting ready for midnight, which is when we sit down and have dinner.

You have dinner at midnight!?

Well, yeah.

"Well, yeah", you say that like that's the most normal thing in the world.

But because Christmas is on the next day, right?

So, Christmas Eve on the 24th and Christmas Day on the 25th. So, technically you celebrate both. You get ready on the 24th and then you...

I would say that 24th is more like a day for, like, you're preparing the food and preparing to house and getting ready for the next day. But we don't do anything... I mean, we do get together for lunch like you guys do here on Christmas Day, but the main thing is at midnight when we have dinner, we exchange presents, and we...

You exchange presents after dinner at midnight?!

Yeah, well, it depends. Like, as a child, I remember I would always try and stay awake, but obviously I couldn't sometimes it was just too much for me. But I remember waking up with my presents in bed for me, like, my family would put them next to me and it was just hard to sleep because you'd be so excited and eating so much sugar during the whole day and just, like, while waiting for the big moment.

So, how did you go though...? It's almost like New Year's.

Yeah, it's pretty much the same thing. It's exactly the same for me. Get ready and at midnight we do whatever we have to do and, you know, have dinner and stay together and everything. And the same for New Year's. My family has never been, like, we never went out for... to the beach, like some people do... well, a lot of people do in Brazil and Australia. But it's a big thing as well. So it's midnight and we'll party and yeah.

So, what's it like, though? Do you have, you know, massive amounts of fireworks nearby? Do you have the count down?

The main... the most popular thing is people want to go to the beach where they have fireworks and nightclubs and, yeah, just party.

I guess it's sort of the same in Australia where you'll have a lot of parties all over the place. I'm sure nightclubs would jump on that, the opportunity there.

Yeah. I mean when I say nightclubs, it's more like it might be a restaurant or, you know, just somewhere with music and drinks. And, you know, it's more like... I would say in Brazil, at least, like people celebrate Christmas with their families and New Year's with friends because you want to get drunk and you want to party.

Or really?

So, you're not going to do that with your family.

Really? So, it's kind of separated?


Interesting. I mean, I'm sure there's... I'm sure there are people here in Australia who try and avoid family on New Year's because they to get wasted. But I'm sure a lot of people do it with family as well. Like, I don't think it's as... It's as well defined like that here.

At least for young people. I remember always when I started going out and, you know...

Getting messed up?

Yeah. I would be home for Christmas. And then, New Year's would be like, I'll stay with my family until 10:00 and then you leave for the party, and you call them, of course, but you're just not like there because you want to get drunk and dance and yeah.

Did you ever watch the fireworks in other cities and everything on the TV?

Oh, yeah, on the TV. Yeah, definitely. But not in person.

Yeah. Well, of course. I think, I don't think I've ever seen any other countries in person, just Australia.

But it's massive in Australia, isn't it?

Yeah. Well, I think like anywhere.

Like, for me it was always on the TV. I've never be, like, oh let's go and watch it, like, in person. It's actually something I would love to do. And I remember last year...

To go to Sydney?

Yeah, I remember last year, I was saying oh I'd love to see. And you were like, well, you know, you're not going to do now because you're pregnant and next you'll have a child.

It's a bit of a nightmare. I remember, I did it once in Sydney. I think the year was probably 2007/2008, and we were doing a road trip from Melbourne all the way up to Bundaberg in Queensland to go and do some volunteer work turtle tagging. So, we were doing some biology of turtles up in Bundaberg, and we got to Sydney for new years, and it was just mayhem. There was millions of people around.

I know.

So, and like the waterfront where we were to watch it, it was beautiful to watch, but it's like, you know, ten minutes ultimately of your life.

And you're like...

It's awesome to be there in person. There's loads of people around there. Everyone's drunk because they can drink in public that night. And we got robbed. Like, not... We... one of my friends was where we're all drinking. In fact, I might not have actually been drinking at that time. I think I only started drinking at the age of 23, so it was probably before then. But she put down our bag that had my camera in it and the car keys on and everything in it in the... behind where we were standing, because there were dozens of people.

Behind you?

Yeah. And she walked off to do something. And when we turned around the bag was gone.

Of course it was.

Exactly. So, you have to be very careful in those... I mean, you would probably know that more than I do. I'm pretty ignorant in Australia.

No, it's the same in Brazil. It's probably much, much worse. And yeah, that's one... That's the other thing. Like, because I've never been to parties and those things, I only know the bad side. It's like people get robbed, you get... there's no place to park. It's just... So, many people. It's just ridiculous.

Yeah, well, what we're doing? When we were in Sydney to go see the fireworks in 2007/8, we had, I think, we were staying like an hour and a half out of the city with friends of one of the guys we were with and we had to catch the train in. And then we had to walk, you know, a really long distance to get to where we were going to watch it all. And then after that, the most annoying thing was, because the case was stolen and the owner of the car was one of the girls with us, her brother, we had to wait several days for his other set of keys to get sent up to us so that we could keep driving.

Did you get upset?

It was annoying to lose all of the photos on the camera. But I mean, you know, I mean, I was annoyed at her at the moment, but because in the moment, at the end of the world. But yeah, so going back to Christmas here. It's interesting because you have obviously experienced Christmas here three times with me?

Three times, yeah.

You came down time to two years ago, then you did last year with us, and then you just did this year, yep? What did you think of it? So, what do we do normally? Can you remember?

You guys, well, it depends.

This year was different. but generally before that...

You go to Melbourne to see your grandparents.

Yeah, my grandparents are getting close to 90 years old.

And I think, at least since my mum was a kid, they've always had sort of like a Christmas party with the whole family at their house.

Your grandmother, especially, she's really proper.

She's very anal about doing the Christmas at her house.

You have name tags on the table.

Well, she has her rituals, I guess, like, you know, the things, her traditions that she likes to do.

Well, yeah, fair enough.

So, she likes to put name tags out where everyone's going see it. She tries to get, you know, kids away from their parents, mix everyone up so that they have to talk and everything. We have... what would we have normally? We normally have some kind of a roast, so it'd be like a turkey and lamb roast for the main course. There'll be an entree before that that's like a light salad or something.

The Christmas cake.

Yeah. Then there'll be Christmas cake, Christmas pudding at the end. And the funny thing that she does is she gets, I think, it's brandy and pours it on top of the cake when she comes... when she brings it out and sets it on fire.

Yeah, I know.

Lights it to burn it off. So, to come out, like, on fire in, like, blue flames. And the other thing that you might find weird is that she puts old coins in the Christmas pudding for people to find when they're eating it, you know, hopefully not choking on it. So, these old coins like before the currency changed in Australia. God knows how many people's mouths they've been in since she started doing it.

Hopefully she washes them.

She does, but then she gives you money. She rewards you.

Why was it different this year? Like...

So, this year we had our Christmas with my folks, and the main reason is because we've got Noah and my sisters got Isabel, her daughter, my niece.

It's a bit of a drive, isn't it?

And it's an hour and a half to get to my grandparents place from here. So, we're in Ocean Grove and they're in Camberwell on the other side of Melbourne. And so, it's just a pain in the arse for two young babies and their families to have to drive all the way up there. And so we decided this year to have it at my parents' place seeing as both my sister and her family and us, we live within 100 meters, 200 meters, of my parents place, so we can just walk there.

It was good.

But yeah, I don't know. What is it like with you guys too, for Christmas and New Year's? Do you eat and drink like crazy? Is it just food and alcohol? Like, is that the biggest thing? Or do that tend to be less about getting drunk or overeating? Because that tends to be a big thing in Australia. People get drunk and people eat a lot.

My... On my mother's side of the family, they're not heavy drinkers, anyway. So, there was never alcohol. But on my dad's side, they do like beer, so they would get... no, I wouldn't say 'smashed', though, pretty drunk, but they will drink.

That's funny, because it's kind of the same for my family. My grandparents on my mum's side are pretty proper. They'll have a little bit of wine, but they... I rarely ever see them drink beer. My grand... My grandfather might drink beer. My grandmother no would never. She would never touch that.


No. Because they're so traditional.

Really? That's interesting. Yeah. When food... It's true, like, we just eat. It feels like the same, but you just eat until everything tastes the same and you can't... you can't understand, like, I don't know which day is today. Like, I'm just waiting for New Year's.

Is it Friday?

It's Saturday, isn't it?


Yeah. So, you just keep eating and eating and yeah pretty much. But alcohol...

We haven't been to the shops in several days because there's just been so many parties and leftover food and all sorts of stuff.

And also, you just feel so bloated, because you're eating so much and I don't feel like having... Well, we had lunch yesterday with your family. I'm like, I'm not gonna eat anything else from the rest for the rest of the day.

Yeah, I didn't have dinner either.

It is like... It's way too much.

It's brutal. I think, too, because we had a party with my aunty's family on like the 23rd. Then we had a Brazilian party for Natal here with your Brazilian friends and my family. Then we had...


We had Christmas Day with my parents.


And then we had the 27th with my grandparents and my uncle who came down. So, it's just like every day. And now we're going to have New Year's as well at my parents'. And so, it's going to have been like five different big parties all within a week. It's brutal.

It's funny because you're talking about food and I remember showing a photo of your... the table we had last Christmas at your house, your parents' place, of like the lunch we're going to have and everything, and it's actually much less food than we would have in Brazil. 'Cause it's ridiculous. My mum just cooks as if she was going to feed 100 people. And we are probably just 10 in the house.

But is that so you guys have leftovers for days to come?

Yes, pretty much. So, but she'll cook again for New Year's. So, it's a bit like overkill. But you guys, pretty much, you prepare what you're going to have, and there is no like excess. And I think, at least my family is pretty brutal and think it's just like let's eat. Like,... So, there is lasagne, rice, chicken, cake. It's just so much. It's just not okay.

You guys have a bit of a different culture, too, with leftovers, right? After parties.

We just give it to people.

Yeah, do you want to tell that sort of side of the story.

We like to share. So, you know, if you're spending Christmas with us, or you know, you live somewhere else, I might make you a little... we say 'doggy bag'?

Exactly. 'A doggy bag' is like for the leftovers.


I like, I guess, the joke there with 'doggy bag' is like a bag of food that you take home and give you a dog because you're not gonna eat it because it's leftovers or something. But we've started using that in English to mean the food you take after the restaurant or after a party, you know, a meal or whatever and you get to eat it later.

There's always something for you to take home at a Brazilian party. Yeah, it's... I don't know. It's pretty common, and I remember always going to the birthday parties, I would always go back home with cake, and brigadeiros, and even balloons. We'd get some from the party, and just like, I'll carry some home, and just play within the next day until they fall.

So, what sort of gifts would you get? And would you have... For Christmas here, for example, we often get a Christmas tree. It can be a real pine tree that's been, you know, harvested pretty young, or it can be a fake one that's made of plastic and what tinsel or whatever. It gets decorated with gifts and with tinsel and with, you know, things that hang off the branches. Did you guys have the same sort of set up in Brazil?

Same thing. I would say real trees are more common in the south.

They must be hard to come by in the north of Brazil.

Yeah, I've never seen a real Christmas... I mean, just not as you... I think maybe one of my friends had one, but always plastic ones.

Yeah. They must be hard to grow in the tropics.

It's just not suitable. But you asked about presents, right?

Well, what did you do? So, because we would have that set up in like a corner of the house somewhere where the tree'll be set up, the gifts'll be below the tree...

Not in my house. Like, we never had a big Christmas tree. It was just like one of those tiny ones that you put on the table. So, there was no space for presents under the tree. But something that I noticed that you guys do differently, at least your family, is you give, like, for example, your parents gave Noah probably like 5 gifts? Something like that. And he got much...

He got spoiled.

He got all.. Many others. Whereas in my family we would get one present. Like, my mum would buy me one present or my grandma would buy me one present.

It can go either way. I think it depends. You know, like for me from my parents, they'll get... like, my parents and the rest of my family all give me one present. Yeah. But sometimes especially, you know, if it's a newborn baby, if it's a kid and they're really getting spoiled by whoever it is in the family, they may get multiple ones. Like, growing up, I remember we would have gifts below the tree, but they would be put in a pillowcase that had my name or my sister's name sewn on it by my mom. And so, she would stuff... Like Santa's sack or or like a stocking that gets filled with presents in some families where they hang a stocking about the fireplace. We would have a pillowcase that was filled with presents. And so, up until the age of maybe 10/11, we would get, you know, a pillowcase full of presents. It could be anything, though. It could be things like shampoo...

Yeah, not massive expensive things.

No. It'll be lots of little things, like, because I think the whole fun part is unwrapping all the different presents. Yeah. So it would never be really expensive, you know, ridiculous things, but it would be quite a few different things. You know, often from food to Lego to cars to electric cars to all sorts of stuff.

And I love that your mom buys presents the whole year, throughout the year, for Christmas.

So, she stocks up.

She has a stock of like things with children.

Of which she doesn't even know who's getting the present. She just sees them on sale or whatever, buys them and shoves them up in the top in my closet.

It's the best.

I remember always having to be careful, like, you know, because we knew they were there in the closet, so never to go into her room and like open it up and go through the gifts or anything like that. Especially, too, sometimes you'd have to go in there and grab something and the closet would be open and you'd look up and you be like, Oh my God, I saw Lego! Lego, Lego, Lego!

So, Lego was your favourite?

Yeah. I used to love getting Lego and building it and putting it together, and that was always the bomb. It was the best.


Yeah. So, anything else to add, Kelly? What else have you noticed that's different during this period of time between Brazil and Australia? Are they any any other big differences? Obviously, too, in Brazil, it's summer, so it'd be weird for us both, I think, to have a winter Christmas.

I'd love to spend a winter up and just be like snow. I'd love to see that. But...

It'd be very weird.

It's always has been hot for me, like, in Brazil. And here's the same thing. So, yeah, I don't know. I would... Since I came to Australia, Christmas has become less of a party for me. It's nice and I like to get together with your family and do something nice, but it's just not... But it also has it's about getting old, I guess. And now, that we have a child, it's more like so much work and have to go out with him and carry the whole house with us. So, it's not... It's fun, but it's just not the same thing.

It's a chore.

It is. It is.

Anyway. Far out, Kel. Thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. And I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. And yeah, I'd love to hear from you guys, you know, via comment or email or message about how you guys celebrate Christmas and New Year's and how it differs from Australia, or maybe how it's the same as what we do here. Anyway, thanks again, Kel.

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year's, guys.

All right, guys. So, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Once again, Merry Christmas to all of you guys celebrating Christmas or just having fun during the holidays in Australia or anywhere else in the world. And I hope you guys have a safe and happy New Year's as well wherever you guys are in the world. So, thanks again for joining me, guys. And I will chat too soon. Peace!

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