With an amalgam of traditions, Christmas in Mount Isa has been a potpourri of customs and foods garnered from the many nationalities that have made the city its own.
And while we may not have known that the traditional decorations and candle lights came from the early Romans (Italians) or the Christmas tree was originally a German idea from the 19th century, we have embraced both and more, as our own, even in our searing summer temperatures.
What we did know for nigh on 50 years was to mention THE Christmas Tree meant a big, big, party on Kruttschnitt Oval courtesy of Mount Isa Mines.
Such was the benevolence of the mine that every child of primary school age and under was given a special present, appropriate for their age and gender.
December was an exciting time for local children not only as they eagerly waited for the end of school of another year but there was double excitement as they waited and waited and waited (with such sighs) to see a real live Santa Claus at THE Christmas Tree.
In 1924, Mrs Annie Glendenning (Mount Isa's first shop owner) gave out hard boiled lollies to the children as she continued to do until Christmas 1931 when Santa Claus arrived for the first time in Mount Isa.
Immaculately dressed in his red and white suit and sporting a luscious white beard while wearing a long red beanie, he casually strolled across from the Mines Clubhouse to the Mineside Band Rotunda; George Chapman was Mount Isa's first Santa Claus.
In 1932, the summer heat was too hot for Santa to walk so he hitched a ride with a mine fire engine and so began Santa Claus's novel modes of arrival at the Mines' Christmas Tree festivities.
Mount Isa had created a tradition of its own; a tradition that lives on in the memories of thousands of adults who as children, between 1931 and the early 80s, asked ... how's Santa coming this year?
From a shiny space craft, to a stagecoach, and on to an iced Christmas cake, rocket, fire engine, and other fun modes of transport, Santa Claus kept everyone guessing how he would make his grand entrance to Kruttschnitt Oval.
THE Christmas Tree (not to be confused with today's MIM Christmas Parties) was the start of the festive season and a gourmand's feast of Yuletide food from the different nationalities.
Poppy Bravos remembers cooking her Greek mother's recipe for Christopsomo (Christmas bread made with cinnamon, orange and cloves) to be shared with family and friends on Christmas Eve.
Delicious food like the Finnish kinkku (baked ham) and pulla (a bread made with cardamom), German lebkuchen (an iced spiced biscuit), and Hungarian belgli (a poppy seed cake), were just three of the European celebration fares that graced tables.
Christmas food was a taste sensation if you had friends and work mates among the various ethnic groups.
One unexpected spirit of giving was extended to Mount Isa Mines employees in December 1959 when the State Industrial Court discarded the lead bonus as outmoded and introduced a new bonus system.
In a unanimous decision, the new bonus system raised each mine workers' minimum weekly bonus to £8 while Australian Worker's Union members were granted a further £1 per week.
Six years later, the spirit of giving was of a different kind when a local poultry farmer donated 200 chickens to the Mount Isa Trades and Labor Council for distribution to their Shut Out members.
Such generosity is rarely without a string or in this case a feather attached; the unionists had to catch the chickens, themselves.
And fifty years before finger-lickin' zinger chicken was conveniently available for the taking on the streets of Mount Isa, Irishman, John McMahon and five of his Union 'chicken-ringer' mates (sans tattoos on their buttocks one would presume), too hand-caught the birds destined for the unionists' Christmas Dinners.
The British may have brought their northern hemisphere Christmas traditions steeped in the depths of winter to Australia, but over time, Aussies with the influence of many nationalities now have a buffet of culinary delights to tempt the fussiest eater at Christmas time.
Mount Isa with its searing summer temperatures, drought and longed-for wet season, has had a more relaxed climate appropriate custom of mixing traditional heavy Christmas fare with the lighter and chilled Gulf prawns; platters of cold cooked meats, especially chicken and ham; ice-cold beer in stubby coolers; and pavlova laden with fruit and whipped cream.
The influence of fifty-three nationalities among a population of less than 35,000 residents, intertwined themselves into the heart of Mount Isa especially at Christmas time.
And tradition lives on when memories are stirred and retrieved by their owners, of family gatherings and happy events, and without doubt every year someone, somewhere will ask the question ...remember THE Christmas Tree?
Christmas, with the emphasis on Christianity and Christ has become a matter for the individual and yet the overall message of goodwill has not been diminished.
In Mount Isa, Christmas continues to be a potpourri of international traditions taken from the four corners of the world mixed in with the Aussie laid back celebrations that nearly always end with a traditional game of cricket ... in the backyard or out at Lake Moondarra!
HAPPY CHRISTMAS ... Frohe Weihnachten (German), Nollag sona (Irish Gaelic), Nollaig chridheil (Scottish Gaelic), buon Natale (Italian), Feliz Natal (Portuguese), Hristos se rodi (Serbian), Geseende Kersfees (Afrikaans), Kala Christougenna (Greek), Makilcciyana kiristumas (Indian Tamil), Shèngdàn jié kuàilè (Chinese Mandarin), Kirihimete hari (Maori)... EVERYONE!
Researched and written by Kim-Maree Burton
Information sourced from MIMAG, MIM Planet News, Cloncurry Advocate, Townsville Bulletin, Mt Isa Mail, and the North West Star.
Photographs courtesy of Pat Mackie's archives of The Shut Out, MIMAG, MIM Planet News and the North West Star.