Where Christmas Can Be Not A Holiday
The other day I wanted to Facetime with a nephew in Bangkok, but I did not realise that Christmas is not a public holiday in Thailand, the only Asian nation not occupied by foreign powers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
I then checked that Christmas is a public holiday, still, in all the Asian nations which were colonised by the British a century or more ago, apart from Brunei, which has recently banned any celebrations of Christmas, and Pakistan, which was a nation created for Indian Muslims in 1947 when the British colonials left.
China, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea and Burma had varying degrees of Western colonial rule, either in parts of or the whole of their country, but do not recognise Christmas as a official holiday, except in the SARs of Macau and Hong Kong.
You may have noticed the much more impressive commercially sponsored lights for Christmas in places such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Saigon, Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur when compared with Australian cities.
Most Asian nations also do not have a significant Christian majority like the Phillippines and Papua New Guinea.
Indonesia, a Muslim majority country, however offers two public holidays for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
North Korea does not recognise a holiday for Christmas whilst South Korea does.
Christmas in Australia is marked by hot temperatures and excesses of a relatively rich society.
There are public messages by the reps of the Catholic and Anglican Churches, by the Queen of the United Kingdom and Head of State of 15 Commonwealth nations - and through overwhelming advertisements on screen media.
There is over eating, intense shopping, over consumption of sea food, increased demerit points for traffic offences, superb alcohol sales, airport over crowding, electronic system failure of one kind or another and over exposure to the strong sun. Someone said to me do not blame the festive season, it does happen on other days as well.
Restaurants and cafes tend to close from Christmas Day. Fruits are a plenty Down Under unlike in the northern climes. Tradies go on long holidays. Neighbours disappear for their annual trips, or get more than their usual share of visitors. The beaches, cricket grounds and parks are inundated with people. Incidents of accidental drownings, bush fires, vehicle crashes and domestic violence are highlighted by the media more during this holiday season, when more people, especially families, gather and travel than at any other time of the Australian year, except perhaps for Easter.
The Australian government maintains a military presence in several areas overseas - and no matter what our political leanings are, our thoughts and prayers especially go to the individuals who cannot be with family during Christmas.