Christmas In Australia
By: Hilary Williamson
I was lucky enough to experience an Aussie Xmas some time ago, in Melbourne, Victoria. And it is a different experience. Everything is topsy turvy since Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer. But the Australians have a great time anyway, exchange Chrissie presies (not sure I have the spelling right, but those are the words) with each other, and often enjoy a barbie (not the doll, a barbecue) on the beach on December 25th. And they have a good laugh about it all, and celebrate their differences, as they do many things, with a joke on themselves.
Decorations include traditional European wreaths, but native plants called Christmas bush and Christmas bells are also widely used. Santa may be seen depicted in swimmers (a swimsuit), and arrives at Aussie beaches on a surfboard - quite a change from sliding down a chimney! Decorations can include Aussie images like kangaroos and koala bears stifling in Santa hats or red scarves! Christmas cards reflect the same extremes from traditional Victorian images to a summer Santa!
Christmas is a family occasion and, as in other countries, people try to be together for Christmas Day. Australia is similar to the United States and Canada, in that it is a big country with long distances between cities, so that people often need to travel far for the holidays. Also as in North America, Australia's people come from diverse cultures and many bring their own traditions to the holiday celebrations.
Just as holiday decorations vary in style, there are also different approaches to Christmas dinner - traditional or a meal adjusted to local weather! A traditional Xmas dinner can end up feeling very heavy in hot summer weather, and I speak from experience! Many people opt out and have a more sensible meal of a buffet with seafood or cold ham, turkey and salads. One unique and excellent Aussie dessert is Pavlova, which is wonderful with strawberries, passion fruit and whipped cream.
A special tradition started in 1937 in Melbourne. Carols by Candlelight is held each Christmas Eve there and involves tens of thousands of people. They spread blankets on the ground, light their candles and sing Christmas songs together. This is a wonderful experience which I almost participated in - unfortunately there was a heavy summer rainstorm after the first carol. Although songs about it are popular, a white Christmas is not anticipated in Australia. However, Melbourne does claim to often have four seasons in one day, so you never know!
Speaking of Christmas carols, Aussies have their own versions with titles like Santa never made it into Darwin, Australians Let Us Barbeque and Santa's Moving To The South Pole. Since it is summer, Christmas Day activities often include a picnic, swimming, beach fun or a game of Cricket. It is also the beginning of the school summer break, so kids sure have a lot to celebrate down under!!
Virtual Christmas CardsG'Day Down Under
Create your own Aussie cards to send by e-mail
Aussie Xmas Recipes
A type of rice crispie square, requires an ingredient called colpha!
Kiwifruit, strawberries and passionfruit give it Xmas colors!