Christmas in July

The days under our Covod-19 lockdown seem to just run together. Sometimes, I can’t remember exactly which day of the week it currently is, but yesterday I did notice that it was Saturday, 25 July, the midway date between last Christmas and next Christmas.

We had seen a recipe for mulled wine (spiced wine or Glühwein) in the newspaper a few days ago and decided to try and make some because of all the memories that we have of drinking it while visiting the Christmas markets in Europe. Our wine making evolved into a full-blown ‘Christmas in July’ dinner.

In the Northern hemisphere, where most of our Christmas traditions come from, the season is associated with things like snow, cold, frost and warm fires. Here, Christmas can be very hot. We Australians often celebrate Christmas in July, the coldest month of our year, when we can emulate some of the northern hemisphere climate and atmosphere. We know it as ‘Christmas in July’.

Screenshot 2020 07 26 at 11 23 47 am

(This was the invitation sent out by the Goat Rock camping ground in Tezas, Queensland)

The origins of Christmas in July in Australia are not clear, however, it is generally believed that the practise started with a group of homesick Irish tourists visiting the New South Wales Blue Mountains in July of 1980. As snow fell outside, it appears that the group managed to convince a local hotel owner to hold a party called ‘Yulefest.’ It was enjoyed so much that the group returned each year with more and more people and so Christmas in July commenced.

Making our mulled wine first involved going to Woolworths and buying a couple of cheap bottles of red wine. Normally, I would’ve thought that $4 bottles of wine would be undrinkable, but after ‘mulling’ they tasted quite reasonable. We used a mixture of spices including orange and lemon juice and zest, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Star Anise and Bay Leaves. These were all boiled in a pot with half a litre of water and some brown sugar until it had reduced a little and then we added the wine and heated it for another five or six minutes – just below boiling point so as not to boil off he alcohol. I can’t believe that there would be much alcohol but we didn’t want to take any chances.

Once it was ready, of course, we had to try some and make sure it was OK and then we had a mug of this hot wine as a pre-dinner drink. We even used the mugs that we had kept a souvenirs from the Christmas Market in Vienna.

IMG 7842 2

Probably being affected by the wine that we first tasted, we decided to go all-in and make ourselves a Christmas dinner as our evening meal. This required a couple of innovations as turkey, ham, and plum pudding are just not available at this time of year.

We  retrieved a few of our Christmas decorations from the cupboard under the stairs and used them to create something of a Christmas atmosphere.

IMG 7845

Jill set the room table as we might for a normal Christmas meal using some left over bonbons that we found in the storeroom.

IMG 4509

Quite coincidentally, and unbeknown to us, our daughter, Cathy, had visited us in the afternoon bringing a Christmas in July gift of some special vanilla  tea and some chocolates from both herself and our two granddaughters. What a nice touch!

IMG 7864

I did the cooking but I had to improvise with some ingredients. There are no turkeys in the Australian shops at this time of year (but we wouldn’t have wanted many days of leftover turkey anyway). I did find that Woolworths sold some slices of turkey breast that we are able to cook in a pan along with some slices of ham that came from a tin that we have had for some time in case of a lockdown emergency. Along with chicken gravy, roast vegetables and some steamed beans we ended up with quite a respectable meal.

IMG 4510

Christmas pudding required a bit more innovation. The closest thing to a traditional plum pudding that I could find was a sticky date pudding but this finished off the meal nicely with custard and cream.

IMG 7868 2

We thought that this meal was good enough to get dressed up for, so before eating we put on some nice clothes and sat down to enjoy a memorable meal. It just goes to show that with a bit of initiative and innovation it’s possible to do something fun and different in the middle of this dreary time. Maybe, one day, we will be able to go out and eat again.  

IMG 7848

4 thoughts on “Christmas in July

  1. Very dapper Mr Wilson ! Jill looks very smart as well .. very innovative meal !

  2. Fantastic effort. I hope you felt quite joyous with a celebration in mid July in the antipodes under seriouslockdown. The mulled wine should have lightened the spirits. You both look smashing.🎄

  3. Great job, Bruce. Hope you and Jill are doing well. The US is really having a rough time. Even though we are not officially locked down in Michigan, we are staying pretty close to home as the numbers keep increasing. I don’t see an end to this any time soon.

  4. Wish I’d thought of that, it would and made a nice change, I even have a small plum pudding in the cupboard!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Every Day Life

We’ve Had a Very Active Four-Day Weekend

Today is Melbourne Cup Day on which the ‘Race That Stops a Nation’ is run. This horse race is always held on the first Tuesday in November and is a public holiday. Many people here take the Monday off work as well  to make a four day weekend. Our weekend actually began last Friday when […]

Read More
Every Day Life

A Visit to Pentridge Prison’s Hell Hole – H Division

During the week, I spent a morning doing a tour of H Division within the old Pentridge Prison in Coburg.  Pentridge Prison was a notorious correctional facility located in Coburg, Melbourne, Australia. It operated from 1851 to 1997. Originally built as a stockade for prisoners during the Victorian gold rush, it later evolved into a […]

Read More
Every Day Life

My Fifty-Five Year Anniversary

Today, July 17, is quite a momentous anniversary for me. It’s fifty five years since I was required to report for National Service training and become a soldier in the Australian Army. I don’t know where those fifty five years have gone. Perhaps getting married, having children, raising a family, developing a career, working hard […]

Read More