Forget the cold weather of the Northern Hemisphere and the chimney fire!
Christmas in Australia happens during the Summer Holidays (mid-December – mid-February) with temperatures from between 28 to 35°C (sometimes even hotter) whereas in France for example it’s more like 0 to 7°C, so for Europeans or North Americans to spend Christmas “Down Under” is quite a different experience to what they are used to.
Like in Europe, Christmas is a religious celebration even if there isn’t an official religion, however, three quarters of the population of Australia identifies as Christian (Catholic or Anglican). The evening of the 24th and the lunchtime of the 25th is generally spent with the family and close friends. Some people go camping as well and celebrate with an Aussie barbie.
Australia has adopted many customs from Europe and especially the United Kingdom: indeed you’ll find Christmas trees with lots of ornaments and Santa Claus, but perhaps with a swimsuit on the beach. As for the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, they get crowds of about 40,000 on the 25th!
Like in most countries you can hear carol singers on the street, with the biggest concert being the “Carols in the Domain” in central Sydney. Apart from the classic Christmas tree there is also the Christmas Bush: a small tree native to New South Wales, and lots of these decorate the balconies of houses in Sydney and surrounds.
In Australia Santa doesn’t use reindeers but kangaroos, the emblem of the nation, another Australian peculiarity making Christmas quite uniquely different.
Let’s talk about a central element: the Christmas lunch! Here again you’ll find some similarities with British cousins. The meal generally consists of:
- Platters of seafood
- Fruit Mince Pie
Pavlova: a cake made of meringue, and topped with cream and fruit invented in honour of Anna Pavlova, on the occasion of the ballerina’s tour to Australia and New Zealand. The two countries claim to have invented this desert and it can be a source of conflict between both nations.
The following day, Boxing Day, is a public holiday common to all Commonwealth countries: it’s the first day of the summer sales and the Boxing Day Test Match – a cricket game that takes place in Melbourne in the “MCG”, a stadium with a capacity of 90, 000, that is usually full on this day.