A CULTURAL COMPARISON–PART 3.
Nicole Buckler inserts her final instalment in the series which compares the Irish with the Australians.
Yes here it is, the last word on the differences between Christmas, money and stalkers in Ireland and Australia.
In Ireland, and indeed across Europe, Christmas is a “season” rather than a festive day, like it is in Australia. “Christmas” in Ireland starts in late November. It is an excuse to go to a nice warm pub with a big roaring fire. Every night. You are required by tradition to get horribly drunk with workmates and slag off the boss. Except if the boss is with you. Then you slag off whichever political party is blocking access to Santa’s sleigh come midnight on the 25th.
The tradition of young people wearing Christmas jumpers to nightclubs, which light up like Christmas trees, is so insanely fun and cool it makes we want to live in a bar for all of December. This would not and could not fly in Australia. It’s too damn hot that time of year, and poxy Christmas shirts just don’t cut it. I’m sorry Australians, but Christmas is a cold-country celebration. It is a dark cold snotty time of year and we need Christmas to get us through the freezoid times where out car doors are frozen shut and icicles form on our bins. We have wreaths made of holly because WE HAVE HOLLY. Many an Australian child like myself have painted holly leaves on our windows and glass doors at Christmas only to wonder what the hell it is and why we do it. I have also as a child, made cotton balls into “snow” and put it on our Christmas tree in 40-degree heat. And in blazing tropical heat, we sit down to a big roasted turkey, hot potatoes, and some green vege that has to be imported via a cargo ship from probably Russia.
Listen up Aussies: the reason we have that kind of meal in Ireland is that it is so cold and dark on Christmas day that we need to upload dead beast so the meat sweats will keep us warm. And we don the sherry jacket for the same reason. In Australia, donning the sherry jacket just makes us half-drown at the beach and get mouth-to-mouth from an over-excited lifesaver with turkey breath. WHY AUSTRALIA WHY??
Australia, you need to get your own festival. Let’s call is the season of the sun god. A giant sun can come to the children in a ray beamed from space. Just leave European festivals alone. You are not Europeans. You are an Oceanic people, who need to reinvent your festivals and stop being influenced by an “old country” no one is really from anyway. Then invite me to be the queen of it, since it was my idea in the first place. It will be a tourist attraction. The Solar Giving Festival 2014. I love it.
Australians Do, Irish Visit.
When I first arrived in Ireland, I always asked people what they did on the weekend. And they never DID anything, really. Well not to my Australian mind they didn’t. In my first few years here, I was out seeing stuff, visiting tourist attractions, seeing castles. But when these things started to run out, and my Australian friends starting going back home, I was left wondering what Irish people “do” with their free time. In fact many Aussies left Ireland earlier than planned because there was “nothing to do.” And then it dawned on me. Irish people visit each other on the weekends. In Australia, we would go to the beach, or go on a hike, or ride a bike somewhere or so to a waterpark or have pool parties or wild barbeques where we’d end the time karaoke-ing away to old gross Cold Chisel songs. But here in Ireland, people put their kids in the car, and go visit grandparents, aunts, unless, neighbours, sisters, cousins. Once I worked this out, I was a lot better at being Irish. Irish people like nothing better than company. And this, I have realised, has given them a complexity of character that other cultures don’t have, simply because they spend all of their time talking with others. But it is also why Australia kicks Ireland’s butt at any sport.
In Australia, it is much easier to make friends than in Ireland. If you meet someone in Auz, at work or wherever, it is absolutely normal to then say, “Hey let’s go see a movie/get a coffee/kill some spiders.” This still applies even if you have only met half an hour ago. In Ireland THIS IS VERY WEIRD. NEVER DO THIS. If you just met someone in a pottery class for example, or in a gym, then you absolutely cannot make the switch from acquaintance to friend without knowing them for at least a year. Otherwise people will think you are a desperate stalker who will kill their cat and steal their knickers. The exception to this is house-sharing. When I first moved to Ireland I shared a house with all sorts of people. And then if your friends also shared a different house, then a houseparty would ensue and everyone would meet everyone from everyone’s houses. And that was great. But if you aren’t housesharing and you aren’t Irish, I wish you well, stalker.
There are certain topics you never, ever talk about in Ireland. The main one is money. You can’t talk about how much things cost, and you can’t talk about getting ANY sort of bargain. When my friends say to me, “Hey nice skirt!” I always say, “Yes I got it from Penney’s it was only 5 euro, what a bargain!” Then my friends tell me off. They say, “Don’t say that. Say thank you, and act like you got it in Brown Thomas.” I am not allowed to boast about bargains here AT ALL. On the other hand, Australians talk about money openly all the time. They love a bargain. In fact they love nothing better than a “garage sale” where you put all your junk out on your lawn that you don’t want and sell it to people who do want it. The idea of this utterly horrifies Irish people. “Sell my stuff? To like people I don’t know? For money? I would look poor.” Also Irish people don’t tend to sell stuff second-hand. They would just rather donate stuff to a charity shop or give it away. I recently sold all of my baby stuff, including stair-gates, monitors, prams, bed rails, fireguards, car seat. The lot. I made a very tidy sum. But who was coming to buy it? Foreigners. Not one Irish person fronted up to buy second-hand stuff. And it is for the same reason that you never see second-hand furniture stores here, but they are on every corner in Australia. Irish people would hate the thought of selling their stuff second-hand, they would just rather give it to charity. I am going to break this trend by having a garage sale. In the rain. And I’ll throw in some free kanga bangers. No takers? Oh dear.
Irish people will attend funerals of people they don’t know, if they have an allegiance with the bereaved. For example I have been to the funeral of friend’s grandparent. I didn’t know the grandparent at all, but I knew, because I was close to the friend, that I would go to the funeral. And it is a valid day off in an Irish workplace. This in Australia is very very weird. You only go to a funeral if you not only know the person who died, but know the person well. You don’t get days off to go to funerals. And you don’t drink and gather for a few days afterwards like the Irish do. But I say we should bring this funeral fashion in Down Under. Anything for a day off work is fine by me.
You never, ever return faulty items in Ireland for a refund. If they break after a day, or even after a few months, it is still the same. You don’t bring them back with the receipt and complain that the shop has sold you a pile of junk. This is in spite of laws that protect the consumer against this exact thing. Whereas in Australia, the customer service policy is a bit more desperate to keep you as a customer. You can bring clothes back with the excuse that you “changed your mind.” And three years later, if something craps out, you can bring it back, as long as it is under warranty. And Aussie DO bring it back. And they aren’t embarrassed about it. They are getting their money back come hell or high water. But not in Ireland. Irish people will just slag the shop off behind its back, and vow to never shop there again. And then their resolves breaks and they go back a few months later to buy more crap. If we don’t start taking back all the crap people, shops won’t try harder to not sell us crap. TAKE BACK THE CRAP IRISH PEOPLE.
Accents in Ireland are the great social divider. People from working-class areas have very different accents to middle and upper class Irish people. This prevents social mobility for working class people. In many areas of Ireland it is more socially acceptable to have accents from all over the world, than to have a working-class accent. For people with working-class accents, others still look at them as their class only and ignore everything else about them. I find this unsettling and unfair. Australians have regional accents. I’m sure I have a Brisbane accent. But people would not know if I grew up in a council house or a mansion next door to Dannii Minogue. And that’s the way I like it.
In Australia, you peg out your washing, it dries and you bring it in again. The end. Here in Ireland doing laundry is like some sort of ceremonial event that always ends up in the same place: the dryer or on the rads. Irish people peg their washing out “to give it some air” but IT NEVER FECKIN DRIES. And Irish people seem to not know how to peg anything out properly. It’s bunched all up together, using one peg for two items. Don’t make me lecture you people. IT WILL NOT DRY UNLESS YOU PEG IT OUT IN A TUAT AND SEPARTED MANNER PEOPLE. And then it comes in soaking wet from the Irish skies, sometimes wetter than before it came out of the washing machine. And then it is put on the rads, or in the dryer. It’s like a whole nation of people hope that one day in time, the washing that they hang out to dry will indeed dry within a day. Here’s an idea people. Have a covered area at the side of your gaff, made of clear plastic, where the clothes can be shielded from rain, and still get sunlight, yet which can still blow in the wind. Let’s call it Eire-Dry, a semi-greenhouse system. Send your cheques in to me people, this idea will make me rich.
Irish people don’t go camping. This is despite loads of great camping sites all over Ireland. So who stays at these campsites? Germans. The English. The French. Or anyone who wants to visit here on the cheap. And weird Australians who have been here for 14 years. Australians are obsessed with camping. Even if you are rich and can afford a big posh luxury hotel stay, you will still go camping for some holidays. And Australians will camp anywhere. If there is a puddle in the middle of a field, Aussies will call it “Serenity Billabong” and put tents up around it and try to surf in it. And their tents won’t be normal tents. Their tents have three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a breakfast bar, and sometime a double garage. Irish people will stay home and visit people. And be damn pleased about it, thanks very much.
Do you have any new “differences” to add to this list? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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