Several years ago, Australia spent more on Christmas per capita than any other nation. The Americans are beating us this year, but we are still right up there.
The average household in Australia will spend $969 each this Christmas, based on all expenses including gifts, food and decorations. That is a grand total of 18.8 billion dollars.
And what about the fact that 'Carols by Candlelight' celebrations are held all throughout December and attended by several million Australians?
Many of these people would never go to a church at all throughout the year, but are happy to pack the esky with some 'tinnies', take the wife and kids, set up camping chairs and enjoy the annual Christmas praise and worship sing-along.
The explosion of Christmas lights across the suburbs is also another sign that Christmas is getting more popular, not less so. As Wikipedia says:
"In Australia and New Zealand, chains of Christmas lights were quickly adopted as an effective way to provide ambient lighting to verandas, where cold beer is often served in the hot summer evenings. Since the late 20th century, increasingly elaborate Christmas lights have been displayed, and driving around between 8 and 10 p.m. to view the lights has become a popular form of family entertainment. In some areas Christmas lighting becomes a fierce competition, with town councils offering awards for the best decorated house, in other areas it is seen as a co-operative effort, with residents priding themselves on their street or their neighbourhood. The town of Lobethal, South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills, is famed for its Christmas lighting displays."
So what is driving this increasing interest in Christmas, here is Australia?
Well I believe it is a number of factors. We know the retailers are pushing Christmas pretty hard, but even that does not explain its peculiar popularity. Australians are not a particularly religious lot, yet we do have a longing for transcendence.
When Paul Hogan said in Crocodile Dundee, "I read the bible once. You know God and Jesus and all the apostles? They were all fishermen, just like me. Yeah, straight to heaven for Mick Dundee. Yep, me and God, we'd be mates." He was not just speaking for himself.