Merry Christmas! Or should we say, Merry Christmas in July, mate!
The fun of the yuletide season comes twinkling back this weekend in Chalfont with a two-day Christmas in Australia party at Byers’ Choice.
Instead of dreaming of a white Christmas and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, this is a Christmas celebration like our friends Down Under have.
“In Australia, they celebrate Christmas in the summer, so it’s hot. Most of them do barbecues and beach-type things,” Tara Fryatt, Byers’ Choice Visitor Center manager, says. “[Owner] Joyce Byers wanted to do an event geared toward the summertime, and since we’re all about Christmas, we came up with Christmas in Australia.”
Byers’ Choice’s first Christmas in Australia was last year, and the second time around, the merrymaking extends two days. It starts Friday evening with a Down Under barbecue. Then local Music 4 Nothin’, a Pennsylvania group that promotes musical education, will bring on the carols.
“They’re doing all Christmas music with a jazz orchestra and chorus,” Fryatt says. Don’t forget to brush up on your songs about Frosty, Rudolph and jingle bells: “It’s all Christmas music.”
But what’s Christmas, even one in the dog days of summer, without snow? On Saturday, the Chalfont Fire Co. will cover the front lawn with the white stuff (actually, it’s a very snow-like foam).
“The foam looks like a snowstorm. In the wintertime, our front garden is all covered in white, and that’s what we’ll have this weekend,” Fryatt says. “We call it the melted snowstorm. The look on the kids’ faces was just priceless.”
Kids can even throw a couple of snowballs indoors, thanks to a snow machine. Saturday also brings the Frosty photo booth, letter writing to Santa and two talking reindeer to help deliver kids’ messages to the North Pole. Frosty the Snowman plays in the 50-person theater at 3 p.m. and at 8:20 p.m., the “sunset illumination” – 500,000 twinkling lights – turns on just as the sun sets.
Saturday is also Byers’ Choice’s traditional day of Christmas (in Australia) sale. The 35-year-old company is known for its Caroler figurines, handcrafted by artisans.
Christmas never ends at Byers’ Choice between the shop and Christmas museum. This weekend, everyone can capture a little of that year-round Christmas magic.
“We’re all about cookies, candy and cake here. It’s always fun,” Fryatt says. “It’s a joyful place because it’s Christmas all the time.”
Where Did Christmas in July Come From?
Christmas in July is an odd concept. It’s not halfway to Christmas – that would be June 25 – so where did it come from?
We have a girls’ camp in North Carolina to thank for what has turned into a chance for summer parties and sales. Camp Keystone apparently celebrated Christmas in July in 1933 with visits from Santa Claus, a tree and even presents.
The concept continued to grow, especially at churches, which used Christmas in July to collect presents for its missions. In World War II, the U.S. Post Office even got in on the holiday with a Christmas in July campaign to encourage Americans to mail gifts early to men and women serving overseas.
If You Go
Byers’ Choice is located at 4355 County Line Rd., Chalfont. All of the Christmas in Australia activities are free, except for the barbecue Friday. The event runs Friday, 5-8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Visit www.byerschoice.com for the full schedule.
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