Christmas varies from country to country and Australia sticks to certain traditions but strays from others.
The white Christmas in the northern hemisphere is known for the snow-covered streets, huge feasts of turkey and ham with egg nog and mulled wine and knitted Christmas-themed jumpers – it’s too hot in Australia for that!
Like most places, a large Christmas Tree is on display in all major cities and there are a number of events that will remind you of home, but here’s a few different things you’ll find at Christmas time in Australia:
Do you want to build a snowman?
Sorry, not in Australia at Christmas time! He’ll be made out of sand. It has happened on the very rare occasion – in 2006 a in the southern mountains of Victoria it snowed on Christmas Day in what was deemed a very unusual weather event.
The hot summer days mean mulled wine and eggnog is (mostly) off the table! Australians that are of age are usually enjoying a wine or a beer in a festive stubby holder while the younger generation will be enjoying soft drink or cordial.
Well we still do have turkey and ham but the hot summer days mean it’s usually served cold and many families get up early to cook before lunch. But, rather than slave away in a hot kitchen, many Aussies opt for seafood and barbecues because it’s quicker and usually the cook is among the guests rather than alone in the kitchen! Prawns are basically a staple-food and there is usually a range of oysters, fish, crab and other seafood on the table around Christmas time.
Christmas cake is definitely popular in Australia but again, it’s a bit hot for Christmas pudding. The main Christmas dessert is a pavlova, affectionately known as a ‘pav’. This is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp crust with a soft, light inside. While the pav itself can be either store-bought or home made, the toppings are usually a creation by the host! It is covered in whipped cream and then topped with fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana, kiwi fruit – anything they desire!
Another popular Australian dessert is trifle. It is made out of custard, jelly, fruits, sponge and liqueur a delicious alternative to Christmas pudding with all the same festive flair.
If Aussies can go outdoors – they do. Many like to spend the day at the beach, camping at the dam, by the river… there is often a body of water involved. Australians usually like to get outdoors after their Christmas lunch if they’re not already dining outside. Family games of cricket are popular too! Sometimes families have Christmas picnics at local parks, and many eat lunch outside at home in the yard or on the deck.
If not on the day, in the weeks leading up to Christmas it’s quite traditional for families to drive around their town or city at night to look at Christmas lights. Many families do up their houses with lights and decorations and in many areas there are entire streets that get involved and try to out-do each other each year!
Santa makes many appearances leading up to Christmas and if you find him in a mall or shopping plaza, you’ll see that he’s in his traditional suit because he’s in the safety of air conditioning! It’s very possible that you’ll find him elsewhere in shorts or short sleeves – maybe even on a tractor or surfboard depending on where you are!
You won’t find the Christmas sweaters on Aussies on Christmas Day! Casual outfits are the main attire – summer dresses, board shorts and loose-fitting shirts are much more popular. It’s not uncommon for Santa hats to be worn, but never for too long!
There are Christmas themed t-shirts and in the weeks leading up to the big day you may see women wearing Christmas jewellery or men with a festive tie.
Carols by Candlelight is a popular event in many cities are towns, with the biggest event being held and televised on Christmas Eve in Melbourne.The event is celebrating 80 years this year and last year it raised more than $1.2 million for Vision Australia.
Sydney holds Carols by Candlelight on December 13 on Bondi Beach and Carols in the Domain which is on Sunday, December 17 in 2017 among other events throughout the city including the Lights of Christmas which runs from December 6 to 25 at St Mary’s Cathedral Square.
Brisbane also holds a raft of events, from carols, fireworks, movies, parades and more!
Boxing Day sporting traditions:
There are two major sporting events in Australia the day after Christmas. December 26 is the opening day of the ‘Boxing Day Test’ between the Australian Cricket Team and an international touring side at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Thousands of people go every year and the event is televised. Slightly further up the country in Sydney the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race also starts on Boxing Day from Sydney Harbour. Teams sail to Hobart in Tasmania in a race that is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).