As a culturally diverse community, Christmas is just one of several significant events recognised in Adelaide in December. Discover a little about two other cultural festivals occurring and how some locals will celebrate them.
Yik Kan Wong
From Hong Kong, student
28-year-old Yik Kan has been living in Adelaide since 2007. Finishing a Master of Social Work Degree at Flinders University, he’s currently undertaking a work placement at the city-based Chinese Welfare Services of SA Inc, which supports the settlement and social participation of migrants of Chinese descent.
This year, on Saturday 22 December, Yik Kan will be among many within Adelaide’s Chinese community marking Dongzhi, the Chinese winter solstice festival promoting harmony and positivity.
“Dongzhi is based on the Chinese calendar (lunisolar calendar) and marks the day each year with the shortest period of daylight and the longest period of night-time,” said Yik Kan.
“Depending on where you live in China, Dongzhi can be marked with different styles of celebration but we are all from the same spirit.”
In Hong Kong, Dongzhi is seen as a time for family reunion.
“We’d get together and have dinner over the long night period and we’d eat the Chinese dessert tangyuan. These are glutinous rice balls symbolising family unity or prosperity.”
Served warm, tangyuan can have different fillings – cane sugar, peanut paste or sesame paste – and can be brightly coloured. It can be found at most Asian groceries in the city.
This year, Yik Kan will mark Donghzi in Adelaide by gathering with friends to cook and share an evening meal together at home – complete with tangyuan served in a sweet soup of sugar and water. He’s also planning to spend Christmas Day with friends enjoying a barbie and a shared hot pot.
From Guangzhou, student
Also completing her final year of a Social Work degree and working alongside Yik Kan at Chinese Welfare Services of SA Inc, 25-year-old Yunrui has been living and studying in Adelaide since July 2016 and loves the city’s peaceful environment.
In her hometown of Guangzhou in mainland China in the southern province of Guangdong, Yunrui would also mark Dongzhi by gathering with her family. Along with paying thanks to the earth on this day, a family’s ancestors are remembered and honoured.
“At my family home we have wooden plaques with our ancestor’s names on them, where we worship regularly. On Dongzhi, a more formal worship takes place where we place fruit and meat in front of the plaques and thank our ancestors for protecting us and wish for health for all the family.”
This year, without immediate family around, Yunrui and her three housemates will share a big dinner together – also cooking up the glutinous rice balls, tangyuan.
Last year, Yunrui was invited to spend Christmas Day with a local family and hopes to enjoy a similar experience this year.
“It was really nice for me to participate in a western style Christmas and see the family bonds between parents, their children and their extended family. Also, as they were from Britain, the lunch was quite traditional. The most special food was the Christmas Pudding!”
Raised in a Jewish family in Adelaide, 29-year-old Sam feels he gets to enjoy a double celebration in December. While he doesn’t partake in all the traditional Jewish rituals, he does mark Hanukkah with his family while also spending Christmas Day with friends.
The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which needed to be purified after being desecrated. Hanukkah celebrates the miracle that occurred in the purification process where one day’s worth of oil was used to keep the Temple menorah (a traditional Jewish candelabrum) lit for eight whole days and nights.
The lighting of the menorah remains key to the Hanukkah celebrations today. Each menorah has nine candle holders. Every night of Hanukkah, another candle is added after sundown. The ninth candle, usually located in the middle, is used to light the others.
“When I was younger and living at home, Hanukkah was a much bigger event for the family. Everyone would get together to celebrate, there would be little presents given to us and it was a really good time.
“Now, during the eight days of Hanukkah, my two brothers and I will get together with my parents on one night where we’ll light the menorah, share a meal and always eat latkes – which are a traditional fried potato pancake.”
This year, Hanukkah begins on the evening of Sunday 2 December and ends on the evening of Monday 10 December.
Adelaide – a Welcoming City
The City of Adelaide is proud to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity. In 2018 Adelaide became the first capital city in Australia to sign up to Welcoming Cities – a growing network of cities, shires, towns and municipalities committed to welcoming and inclusion.
Within the CBD and North Adelaide, the City of Adelaide operates a number of Community Centres which are popular gathering spaces for people from a kaleidoscope of cultures.
Year-round the Community Centres offer a wide range of community- led activities including programs, workshops, services and events – among them shared multicultural meals, language classes, relaxation sessions, art exhibitions and creative workshops.
Over the festive season, all Community Centres will be closed from Friday 14 December, but will re-open for another vibrant year of community-led activities from Monday 7 January 2019.
Click here for centre contact details and the latest information on events and how to book spaces for your own community activity.
For the low-down on all Christmas-related activity in the city, visit cityofadelaide.com.au/christmas