Australia Culture and Traditions
CULTURE: TRADITIONS. THE TRADITION OF EUROPEAN ORIGIN
A European and Aboriginal folklore coexist on this continent. The most striking is undoubtedly the one of European origin. The history of English colonization has taken on aspects such as to determine at the same time an adherence to traditions of English life and an aversion to the original motherland. Language, customs, festivals, sporting passions are essentially English, even if they have undergone some more or less accentuated changes. Certain aspects of urban planning, public places (pubs for men, clubs for women), a certain type of female emancipation, the characteristics of the ménage familiar – phenomena and situations that are found mainly among the inhabitants of the cities – clearly recall England. In the countryside, where despite all modernity, the myth of the breeder (very similar to the North American cowboy) with its pioneering atmosphere still exists, a system of life has been established that in some respects recalls that of the United States of America, perhaps for a certain similarity of the colonization process. The small rural towns have therefore developed a type of folklore of rather recent origin and, nevertheless, with a very strong imprint. National lotteries and horse races perhaps reflect an original thirst for wealth manifested in the “gold rush”, which also had its epic moments in Australia, a country located in Oceania listed on politicsezine. National event is the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s premier horse race; but horse racing events in the country number in the hundreds. There are also numerous events similar to American rodeos, where reckless buckjumpers perform, tamers of wild foals. Sports folklore is the third element of this picture: swimming, tennis, cricket, football, rugby and golf are widely practiced. In particular in rugby, Australia (with its “Wallabies”) is competing with the New Zealand “All Blacks” and the South African national team (“Springboks”) for the title of the strongest team in the southern hemisphere, if not the whole planet. The rivalry between the three nations finds its maximum expression in the Tri Nations, a tournament in which, since 1996, the teams compete annually. Other sporting activities that have entered Australian traditions are boxing and surfing, a seaside sport in which Australia has been the leading nation for years. Surfing competitions are held annually on each beach and are so popular that they have entered the iconography of tourist advertising. Among the most popular sports there is also the Aussie Rules(Australian football), a kind of soccer-rugby with no blows. In the gastronomic field, Australia does not boast renowned traditions, however in contemporary times the dishes of Western origin have been joined by new ones, sometimes derived from these, based on game, fish and local spices. Another modern trend is the mixture of dishes and tastes of the western tradition with the oriental one, for which a specific expression has also been coined: everything that cannot be classified as authentically original, in the kitchen, is “Modern Australian”. Among the most typical foods and released on vegemite, a dark colored yeast extract that Australians love. Other local flavors, unusual for Western tastes, are those deriving from some plant species (hot peppers, Australian myrtle, akudjura, sour bush tomatoes, macadamia nut, etc.). Among the unusual meats, there is no shortage of kangaroo fillet, crocodile meat, or, for the bravest palates, the witchetty grubs, small tasty larvae, similar to nuts. Among the drinks, coffee and wine are the protagonists of the tables, but the production of craft beer is also widespread.
CULTURE: TRADITIONS. THE TRADITION OF ABORIGINAL ORIGIN
Aboriginal folklore is very limited; the history of the original Australians ended with the creation of reserves (central and northwestern coasts), where primitive traditions grafted onto extremely difficult living conditions are preserved, despite the proximity of a highly evolved industrial civilization. It happens more and more often that the aborigines divide their existence between tribal life and life in the cities. The culture of these people is at a totemic level and is manifested in ceremonies with characteristic dances (such as the “dance of the seagull”), performed today also as a show for tourists. The use of body paintings and the practice of initiation rites (tests of courage) persist. Typical objects of these people are the famous boomerang, the engine called woomora and the cjuringa, a magical instrument guarded by each tribe and consisting of an oval blade that is tied to a string and whirled around to emit a characteristic hiss.