Christmas in Australia

I was going to write a lot more about Christmas in Australia but it is already the 22nd of December and I ran out of time. I hope you enjoy the following article, and wishing you a Merry Christmas!

The story of Christmas

Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed on the 25th December. It is a religious festival celebrated by Christians, but it is also a secular holiday for Australians to enjoy a public holiday usually spent with friends and family. The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day and is also a public holiday. If either holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday then the following weekdays are declared as holidays.

Christmas falls roughly in the middle of the big summer holiday enjoyed by school students and universities, and is a good time for families to take holidays together. Popular summer holiday destinations are beaches, camping or warmer parts of Australia. Christmas holiday season (the summer holiday) is also a popular time to travel overseas.

Christmas lunch or dinner

What do Australians eat on Christmas day? The tradition I have followed is an extended family gathering on Chrismas day for lunch. Traditional food is glazed ham (roasted), turkey, chicken, and salads. Christmas pudding is often served at the end of the meal. This is like a thick cake with dried fruit and served with a brandy custard. The pudding is hot and warmed brandy poured over and ignited.

Christmas falls in Summer in Australia, so the food choices have evolved to suit the warmer weather. This is the opposite to the cold weather food of European Christmas. Some people go early to the fish markets and buy prawns or other seafood. Of course there are many choices of food for the family Christmas meal.

Families usually set up a Christmas tree in the home and add all kinds of decorations. Children enjoy making decorations and add to the tree. Christmas presents are usually placed under the tree in the days leading up to Christmas. Presents are opened after the Christmas meal.

An alternative to a Christmas meal at home is to go out for a special Christmas lunch usually at a hotel or function centre. It is a lot of fun to be with other people celebrating but these events are quite expensive. It is an opportunity to dress up, go out and enjoy a sumptious meal. Over the years I have been to some very enjoyable Christmas feasts.

Another Christmas related tradition in Australia is Christmas in July which is a sumptious lunch or dinner usually held in a cold place like the Blue Mountains. The purpose of Christmas in July is to enjoy the traditional Christmas food enjoyed at a European Christmas dinner.

Christmas crackers

Another tradition at the Christmas meal is the Christmas cracker. This is a paper tube containing a small toy, paper hat and a piece of paper with a bad joke. The tube also contains a strip of cardboard with a chemical that makes a small explosion or cracking sound when pulled. The tube and the contents are wrapped in colourful paper and set on the table. The crackers are usually pulled before the meal, the jokes read out and paper hats put on the head.

There is a huge range of crackers available and a big price range based on the contents of the crackers.

Christmas presents

It is a tradition to exchange gifts at Christmas. It can be a challenge to think of the perfect gift for a family member, however children will usually nag parents saying what they want. Australian children can expect two lots of presents each year – birthday and Christmas. My birthday is 5 days before Christmas and sometimes my relatives would give me a combined birthday and Christmas present which I thought was a cop-out as wel as unfair because my brother’s birthday was in July and he always got two presents.

There is a fun way of exchanging presents especially in the workplace called Secret Santa or Kris Kringle. The way this works is that everyone is given the name of the person they are to buy a present for. The name allocation is usually done by writing names on pieces of paper, fold them up then let people choose their recipient. A budget amount is usually set, for example $20. My family started this practice a few years ago and it makes the gift-buying much less stressful as we only have to shop for one person.

Christmas cards

A popular tradition is to send Christmas greeting cards to family and friends. Sometimes it is the only time we communicate with some people, so the annual Christmas card should contain some interesting news. Christmas cards are best bought in packets of 10 or 20. There are many designs of cards available. I already have a few boxes of cards ready to send in early December. Australia Post reduces the price of postage stamps to encourage the sending of cards. Instead of paying $1.20, a Christmas stamp is 65 cents. I keep a list of who I sent cards to, and who I received cards from. Christmas cards are a great way to keep in touch and reignite connections.

A popular practice years ago was to write a family newsletter then send copies to family and friends. Often these newsletters assumed a boasting quality as the achievements of the children are praised and the parent’s life continues to get better and better. The struggles and hard times are usually omitted from the newsletter. One year when my daughters were very young I created a tri-fold family Christmas card with pictures of the girls, a panel for each of their news and a central panel of news. I got the cards printed at Snap printing and mailed them to family and friends. I think the mass mailing was received well although i got a few negative comments saying it was impersonal.

Photo of kids with Santa

In the month of November and December it is common to see pop up photography shops with an older man dressed as Santa Claus. This is an opportunity to get a photo take of the children with Santa Claus. Years ago the children would be sitting on Santa’s knees but in these modern times it isn’t deemed appropriate for a stranger to be holding your children. A photo of the kids with Santa is an old Aussie tradition. This year I was pleased to see a modern Santa photo studio at St Ives shopping centre. Customers can purchase a package of photos which are printed on site – the wonders of digital photography and computers.


One response to “Christmas in Australia”

  1. Very good round up of our Christmas traditions, I remember from my working days we did Kris Kringle which I think was originally a German or Dutch custom. Whether one is a believer or not we all appreciate the holiday break

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