We thought this was a good question for Christmas, "What is an Australian-Sardinian traditional Christmas?" given our that memories and customs originate from Sardinia winter time and move to that of the Australian summer.
As each Sardinian comes from a different region, it was in fact a difficult question to give a common answer. So, we asked some of our members to share some of their traditions that they continued from Sardinia to Australia.
Paul our President told us the of the Nativity Story, how this has been important part of their family Christmas celebrations. Each year before Christmas Paul sets up the Crib and hides baby Jesus. Baby Jesus is only placed in the crib on Christmas Eve. Paul does such a good job of hiding Baby Jesus he forgets where he has hidden him. Luckily, Christmas still goes ahead.
Giovanni who came to Australia as teenager, shared that his family’s custom was to go to midnight Mass celebration and then on Christmas day have a big lunch feast with the family.
Tonina, the specialist cook from the Nuorese region, decorates the Christmas tree and sets up the Presepio (the Nativity scene). Of course, given her talents, she prepares the ravioli, manoreddus (traditional Sardinian short pasta) prior to Christmas. On the special day she cooks the agnello e maialetto arrosto (roast lamb and piglet), followed by the sweets Seadas (fried cheese filled pastry covered in honey) and Pardulas (cheese filled pastry case cooked in the oven). We’d like an invite to Tonina’s next Christmas!
Mariangela, la Cagliaritana who arrived in Australia in 1969, celebrates on Christmas Eve. Her family tradition begins with preparing the Presepio and the Christmas tree on the 1st of December. It’s a special treat for the person who gets to place the star on the top of the tree. Then before Mass on Christmas eve, a light meal, usually fish (no meat) is had. On return from Mass, the banquet with wine begins. The never-ending meal starts with seafood of various types, antipasto (prosciutto, olive, salame), continues with lasagna, a roast, chicken schnitzel, salads and roasted vegetables. Just when you think its ended, out comes the fruit, the Panettone, caffé and the bubbles. Finally at this point, the children are busting to open the presents.
As you can see, there seems to be three elements in the Australian-Sardinian Christmas, getting ready (the presepio and Christmas tree), going to celebrate (Mass) and sharing food with family and friends (feasts).
On that note, however you celebrate, the Sardinian Cultural Association Melbourne wishes you and your families a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Here are some photos from the Sardinian Cultural Association annual Christmas event.
If you attended and took photos, feel free to share them in the Sardinians in Australia facebook group.