Winton Forum


Everybody in Winton celebrates Christmas in a different way - and especially so if you live in a Winton on the other side of the world.

We've been in touch with some of the other Wintons to find out how they are spending theirs.

Some Wintons are hot, some are cold. Some are in the Northern Hemisphere and some are in the Southern.

They all send their very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Here is what they told us.

Greetings from Winton in Western Queensland, Australia

Forget about snow and ice, roast turkey and plum pudding, and your thermal underwear, when you think of Christmas in the Queensland outback. It’s more likely to be 40ºC or hotter, so airconditioners, a shady tree or the town swimming pool will be very popular.

For Christmas lunch, think prawns on ice, cold ham and turkey or chicken with salads, followed by ice-cream and tropical fruit. Maybe a watermelon for the kids. And of course a cold beer or three for the oldies, or some bubbles! At night, a barbecue on the lawn, and a game of backyard cricket or a dip in the pool.

The Winton district’s major income is from sheep and cattle grazing, so we’ll be watching the skies for signs of rain – a wonderful Christmas present would be black clouds, thunder and lightning, followed by drenching rain. The kids would race around throwing mud at each other and sliding in the water, the adults would know that soon green grass would appear and the Mitchell grass plains would be transformed.

A midnight service on Christmas Eve, and an early morning one on Christmas Day, will remind us of the ‘reason for the season’. We have already held our Carols by Candlelight celebration in the park, with carols, readings and song and dance performances from our two local schools.

A verse from the Australian carol, The North Wind, sums up Christmas in Winton, Western Queensland.

“The north wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town.
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddock is brown,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ-child, the heavenly King.”

Season's Greetings from Winton House, Scotland

Winton House celebrates a Scottish Christmas. As you can see, it can be a snowy one.

It tends to be a quiet family time. The noisy celebrations take place a week later at Hogmanay (New Year's Eve).

The house is traditionally decorated with green. Instead of artificial decorations, the walls and doors are adorned with sprays of holly, reed and mistletoe.

Gifts are exchanged around the Christmas tree and the main ingredients of Christmas dinner are usually turkey and plum pudding.

On one evening in the week before Christmas, carol singers make their way around the estate. The tour ends at Winton House where the singers are refreshed with mulled wine and mince pies.

Hogmanay is celebrated with singing, dancing and merry making. The whisky flows and the main meal of the day usually features game such as pheasant or venison.

Merry Christmas from Winton, Minnesota, USA

It is very unusual NOT to have a white Christmas here. Northern Minnesota is very close to the Canadian border and gets a lot of snow as a general rule. The temperature this December is already down to around minus 25 degrees F.

Each family's Christmas traditions tend to have a lot to do with national origins. The predominant national customs in the Ely-Winton area come from the descendants of Finnish and Slovenian workers who arrived in the late 1800s to work as loggers or iron ore miners.

The resultant Christmas celebrations are often a mix of these and other national customs. The Finns brought delicious cardamon-laced bread recipes while the Slovenians introduced potica, a form of strudel, to the region. Both are still Christmas favourites.

Every home has a Christmas tree, but in some the main Christmas meal is on Christmas Eve, after which St Nicholas arrives with gifts for the children.

Last year they held a pre-Christmas celebration at the beginning of December in the old Winton Church which was built in 1902. There was singing by the Slovenian Choir, a lighting contest for residents of Winton, a visit from Santa Claus, and lots of food and hot drinks. 

Despite a temperature of -20 degrees, the highlight of the event was a hayride which led to a live nativity scene. The pre-Christmas celebration will continue to be a tradition in the years to come. 

Read a report of the event in the online edition of the local paper The Ely Echo - Voice of the Wilderness.

This year the Ely-Winton area is making a determined effort to combat the recession. Locals are being urged to support their local businesses. Read this editorial in the local paper.

Happy Christmas from Winton, New Zealand

Christmas here is usually  quiet and peaceful  and still based on the English model. The main difference is the weather. It may be dull and grey in Dorset, but in the Southland area they are enjoying warm summery temperatures.

In November the town has a pre-Christmas Sunday celebration known as Winton Open Day. The morning starts with a non denominational open-air church service held in the Winton Oval. Following that all the shops stay open. This year there was live band music, vintage machinery, mini jeeps and car displays, bushcraft competitions, an auction, performances by a magician, and the ever-popular teddy bears' picnic. Read this report from the local newspaper the Southland Times

As in England, Christmas presents are given and received on Christmas Day - often from under the Christmas Tree. Until recently a brass band would march around the town playing carols.

Christmas dinner varies. While some families like to stick to turkey and all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding, others prefer salads, barbecues and fruits that are more fitting to the climate and time of year.

Nearly every home has a Christmas tree and recently some residents have started putting decorations on the outside of their houses. Because of the long summer days around Christmas, the illuminations are not really visible until after 10pm.

Children may or may not catch a glimpse of Father Christmas but one person they will see is Mr Whippy. His ice cream van tours the area all over Christmas.

According to the local paper the top ten toys that kids want this year for Christmas in Winton, New Zealand are:

  1. Bakugan Range action figures.
  2. Baby born
  3. Beados Super Studio
  4. Ben 10 Alien Force + Ben 10 Scooter & Skateboard.
  5. Bikes Hollywood & Tracker with Easy Push Handle.
  6. Fisher Price waterproof digital camera.
  7. Hannah Montana toy, apparel range.
  8. High School Musical dance mat.
  9. iTeddy.
  10. Leapfrog TAG Reading System.

A quiet Christmas from Winton in the Cascade Mountains, USA

With hardly anybody living there any longer, Christmas in this Winton is pretty quiet. For those few living in the area its likely to be a matter of digging snow away from the door before visiting a neighbour to share a little seasonal cheer.

The nearest town is Leavenworth which about 20 miles away and has the distinction of being a unique reconstruction of a town in Bavaria! It's a major tourist attraction all year round with a full calendar of activities over Christmas. The highlight of the official Christmas festivities is the annual Lighting Festival that runs through December.

On Friday night the town is in darkness awaiting Saturday’s Lighting Festival when everyone gathers to greet Saint Nicholas. On Saturday and Sunday the aroma of food booths and roasting chestnuts fills the air; holiday music plays across the village while youngsters sled in the park and Santa, St. Nicholas and Father Christmas all make an appearance.

At dusk everyone gathers to sing “Silent Night” and witness the illumination of the village and park as they are transformed into a magical wonderland of lights. Children carry their lanterns and follow the wise men and the star to the Festhalle where a Living Nativity is staged.

Click here to read more about Wintons around the World