For many people, Christmas is a holiday closely associated with winter. It’s likely that images of Santa trudging with his fleet of reindeer through the snow may immediately conjure up in your mind. However, this isn’t necessarily the case for us Australians. We have quite unique ways of celebrating Xmas down under that may surprise those living in the northern hemisphere. Influenced by our climate and distinct cultural traditions, here are 6 ways we celebrate Christmas differently from the rest of the world.
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Traditional Christmas Foods
Don’t get us wrong. We still love to enjoy traditional Christmas foods like roast turkey and ham, though we also have a few additions to the Xmas menu to account for the warmer weather. The most notable cold dishes we feast on down under include seafood platters. Anything from prawns to lobsters and smoked salmon to oysters. Seafood is widely regarded as a family favorite.
It’s not just savory dishes we serve differently. We also have our fair share of cold desserts too. It’s not uncommon to find fruit salad at a Christmas lunch alongside some mouthwatering pavlova. For those who are unfamiliar, pavlova is a decadent meringue-based dessert which is traditionally topped with tropical fruits.
Australia is a country that’s renowned for its beautiful beaches, which tend to get packed during the summer. This is no different on Christmas day. Many Australian families choose to spend Christmas day outdoors to enjoy the country’s beautiful weather. It’s not uncommon to find the most popular beaches packed with crowds gathering to enjoy picnics, play some sports, take a swim in the ocean, or just take in the festive vibes. Some beaches you can consider visiting include Bondi, Byron Bay, Noosa, or even Whitehaven Beach just to name a few.
Families in the northern hemisphere will typically hunker down indoors to escape the cruel winter winters, but this isn’t the case for Aussies. Australians love to throw barbeques to make the most of summer, or as we like to call them, “barbies.” Typically held in someone’s backyard, a local park with cooking facilities, or even at the beach, these get-togethers evoke a relaxed and casual atmosphere. The centerpiece of any quality barbeque is the food. Australians typically enjoy a range of grilled meats, including sausages (snags), burgers, steaks, skewers, and, most importantly, lamb. We also don’t mind throwing a cheeky shrimp on the Barbie.
Light displays aren’t exclusive to Australia, but they are perhaps appreciated a little more down under. Many Aussie households take pride in adorning the exterior of their homes with beautiful Christmas decorations. What’s different about the tradition in Australia is the weather. With many countries enduring heavy snow and storms during the winter, it can be difficult to go out of your way to check out other people’s light displays. Many Australians consider this the highlight of their Christmas, and enjoy exploring their communities to take in their neighbours’ beautiful festive homes.
This one again isn’t exclusive to Australia, but we are one of the few commonwealth nations in the world to celebrate this holiday. Boxing Day is the day that immediately follows Christmas, and is a public holiday too. Many European nations call the 26th of December, Saint Stephen’s Day, which is considered to be the second day of Christmas.
Boxing Day is generally considered a day for relaxation, sports, and shopping. There are often prominent cricket matches that take place on this day. Many stores will also take advantage of Boxing Day to promote their post-Christmas sales. Some families might even choose to wait until Boxing Day before buying gifts to take advantage of huge sales.
Carols by Candlelight
Carols By Candlelight holds a special place in the hearts of Australians, and has become an iconic Christmas tradition. The event has its roots tracing back to 1938 where it was first held in Melbourne. It is a live outdoor concert that takes place on Christmas Eve. It serves as a fun charity drive that has since spread across various cities around Australia.
These events bring communities together in parks and public venues to celebrate Christmas through music and song. Carols In the Domain takes place in Sydney, and is now considered to be the main event. It is broadcast live on television every year for families to gather around their TV, and enjoy the event from their homes.