Tag Archives: Australia

Religion in Australia

Religion in Australia

In previous blogs, I explored the topics of culture and education, but it is important to also to consider religion in Australia.  The statistics seem to fluctuate widely depending on the source of information. One source reported that 94% of the population were Christians, but according to Wikki, “In the 2011 Census, 61.14% of the Australian population were recorded as adhering to Christianity. Historically the percentage has been far higher and the religious landscape of Australia is diversifying, along with multicultural immigration and 22.3% of people with no religious affiliation.[1] 22.3% of Australians declared “no-religion” on the 2011 Census, and a further 8.55% did not answer the question.[1] The remaining population is a diverse group which includes Buddhist (2.46%), Islamic (2.21%), Hindu (1.28%) and Jewish (0.45%) communities.”

The Catholic religion is predominate Christian denomination, followed by Anglican and then the Uniting Church of Australia.

Christian Denominations in Australia
Christian Denominations in Australia

Religious organizations have played a significant role in public life and Australia has a strong tradition of secular government.

 

 

 

Education in Australia

 

Education in Australia

Education in Australia is considered to be advanced and is broken down into basically three categories that includes primary education (primary schools), followed by secondary education (secondary schools/high schools) and tertiary education (universities and/or Vocational Education and Training). There is another classification according to the sources of funding and administrative structures which includes government schools (public schools or state schools), Catholic schools, and independent schools (private schools).

Private schools usually have religious affiliations and public schools usually are secular but may offer optional religious affiliations.  64% of children in Australia attend public schools and  34% attend Catholic schools. Uniforms are customary.

Education in Australia with students in uniform
Education in Australia with students in uniform

Education in Australia is the responsibility of the states or territories.  The Australian federal government helps fund the  public universities, but does not set the curriculum. According to Wikipedia, “The Education Index, published with the UN‘s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Australia as 0.993, among the highest in the world, tied for first with Denmark and Finland.”

 

 

 

Customs And Traditions in Australia

 

Australia flag
Australia flag

As one of the seven continents of the world, Australia evokes visions of beautiful natural settings, kangaroos and kola bears, but I was interested to know more about their cultural traditions and customs.

One of the strong influences in Australian culture is the Aboriginese people and the history that surrounds them.  According to Aboriginal belief, the earth descended from the sky to awaken a dark and silent world from which the totemic spirit ancestors emerged.  This time in Australian history is referred to as Dreamtime.  Many of the traditions and customs from this period can be found in the study of rock art, craft and bark painting. The songs have lyrics that have remained unchanged for thousands of years and are usually accompanied by clapsticks or the throbbing tone of the didgeridoo.

Australians are drawn to having a “fair go””, believe in mateship and have a strong affection for the underdog.Their language is described as “strine” which can be described  as a combination or blend of a strong Irish accent with cockney words or phrases while also combining some words from the Aborigines languages.  It is common place to add “ie” or “o” to the end of words and use reverse nicknames such as “Snowy” for someone with dark hair.

Sports and games and are very important to Australians and they have won many championships and trophies in competition. With a population of just over 21 million people, it’s estimated that six-and-a-half million people in Australia are registered sport participants. Football, rugby, and swimming are the most popular sports. Camel racing is also a popular sport which seems very unusual rather comical way to pass time.

camel racingThe common sport of jumping rope is common for children and stems from an ancient Aborigines activity.  The boomerang is also a popular activity for all ages.

Australians love food and especially love foods cooked on the barbie (barbecue).  Alcohol is very popular with beer being the preferred beverage.  It is easy to see why Australians have a reputation for being fun-loving and down to earth.

 

 

 

New Year Traditions Around The World

 

As the minutes and hours tick away and bring to a close 2012, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how people in other countries celebrate the New Year.  I will list 4 different countries for this blog post and  add to the selections.

Australia    

The New Year is Australia is celebrated January 1 as we do in the USA and the celebrations start on December 31 at midnight with horns and whistles.  Many of the celebrations are outside since it is summer at this time of the year.  The celebrations include picnics and rodeos.  New Year’s day is a public holiday as it is in America.

            Buddhist New Year

Great joy is the expressed for the Buddhist New Year.  The holiday is celebrated April – May during the full moon.  It is considered the most holy of days and is celebrated to commemorate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death, or attaining Nirvana. Traditions vary from country to country and are not always celebrated on the same day. People generally gather in the temple to listen to sermons by monks and at night there are candle lit processions around the temples.  As a gesture of kindness, caged birds may be released and set free.

    Egypt

In modern day Egypt, New Year’s day is a public holiday and is a very festive occasion.

The New Year begins by observing the custom of the new crescent moon and it must be seen before the official announcement is made. The sighting is carried out at the Muhammad Ali mosque which is at the top of the hill in Cairo. The Grand Mufti, a religious leader then proclaims the New Year.  Men that have been waiting outside the mosque for the announcement then wish each other a happy New Year and then go home to tell their  families and sit down for a special New year dinner which includes meat even in the poorest of families. Muslims do not drink so no alcohol is served. People dress in their special clothes and visit with friends.  Girls that are usually only wear black, are allowed to wear brightly colored dresses. Children are given special sweet treats.

Greece      

January 1 is the day to celebrate the new year in Greece but also marks another celebration, St. Basil’s day.  Remembered for his generosity and kindness to the poor, St. Basil was one of the forefathers to the Greek Orthodox Church.  He is remembered on this date as a remembrance to the anniversary of his death.

In Greece, New Year’s day is possibly more festive and important than Christmas because of it is the main day for gift giving and stories of kindness of St. Basil as he would come in the night and leave gifts for the children in their shoes.

The most important dish prepared for New Year’s is Vassilopitta or St Basil’s cake, and inside the cake is placed a silver or gold coin. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake will be lucky for the next year.

The cake is distributed in accordance to a strict order. The first piece is for St Basil, the second for the house, the next for the most senior member of the household down to the youngest member and also including absent members. There may also be a piece of cake for the cattle and a large piece for the poor.

In addition to the cake, an abundance of food on the table including Kourabiedes Shortbread and thiples.  There is always honey on the table and olive-branches, nuts, fresh fruit and other symbols of happiness and wealth.