An Aussie Christmas
I discovered during my time working abroad that residents of the Northern Hemisphere find it difficult to comprehend the thought of a summer Christmas (aka an Aussie Christmas). I even got asked once if we celebrate Christmas in June/July – our winter. No, we don’t. Since I finally got my dream last year and experienced an authentically perfect White Christmas, I thought I would share the traditions my family have during an Aussie Christmas. It definitely isn’t the same as our friends in the north, but nonetheless it is still a fun and family-filled holiday.
I have never heard of nor seen an actual real tree in someone’s house. Australia is usually so dry at this time of year that I don’t even know where you would go to purchase an authentic Christmas tree — perhaps the hinterlands of southern Queensland? Thus we have always had the same tree in a box. We had one tree for about twenty years before my parents upgraded (when technically they should have downgraded, which I’m working on for next year). My family has also always attempted to put up and decorate the tree on 1st December. We don’t know when this tradition began but we have kind of always followed along.
Now, this may just be my family and friends, but I have also never seen the traditional stockings hanging by the fireplace in Australia. This may also be because 0.1% of houses down under actually have a fireplace. My aunty made my brother and I these massive stockings when we were kids, which my mum still hangs up by the tree in the lead up to Christmas.
It was so exciting waking up as a kid to see it loaded with presents. I also think it’s much more impressive than the stockings you see in the movies — more loot from Santa was always a winner when we were children.
As mentioned above, growing up my house never had a chimney, so us Aussie kids were told a different tale about how Santa entered the house at night to drop off our gifts — he came through the front door. Yep, not as inventive or cool as being sucked down the chimney, Mr Claus. My brother and I also used to leave Santa a beer over milk and a carrot for the reindeers, because we were so thoughtful.
I love looking at Christmas light decorations. I just think they are magical and the people who decorate their houses are selflessly making our holiday better, by putting their money and effort into the beautiful sights and spreading the Christmas spirit. Some years it would just be my mum and I and others we would drag other people along. But we always have Christmas music playing to share in the joy. It was fortunate the city I grew up in used to name the best streets of lights in the local newspaper, so we knew where to go. LOVE.
Christmas Eve and Day
My family tradition is usually to bake the feast on Christmas Eve and eat the many leftovers for Christmas lunch, so my mum could relax and enjoy the day instead of spending it in the kitchen. We would have the usual suspects: leg ham, a roast, chicken or turkey and roasted vegetables. After dinner we watch Carols by Candlelight, my favourite part of the night. I know it seems weird to people when we sing the same carols about a White Christmas and a Winter Wonderland, but no one made special songs for us. You just get used to it though, and think maybe one day you will see how Christmas is meant to be, traditionally.
On Christmas Day my family opens the presents, usually with Christmas music on and the air conditioner whirring in the background. Then we have breakfast and spend the day with each other, friends or family. More often than not we will be by the water, whether it is salt water or chlorinated. When I was younger we were always on the beach most of the day, but in north Queensland we are usually sitting in a pool somewhere with a drink in hand.
There is also a large consumption of alcohol on these days. Aussies drink to celebrate, and this is the biggest celebration of them all, right?
I feel like I can’t satisfactorily write about an Aussie Christmas without mentioning how many Australians spend the day after: hungover and watching the Boxing Day Cricket Test on TV. This is the sporting event of the summer and although I am not the biggest fan of cricket, I sometimes watch a little bit. Or my dad would take my brother and I to see a blockbuster movie, which debut on Boxing Day. My mum and I wouldn’t brave the shops at least for a few days, because Boxing Day sales are AMAZING but hectic.
So there you have it, an authentic and traditional Aussie Christmas in the life of my family. It is different, and unusual, but you get used to singing about snow whilst at the beach. I did love my White Christmas, but nonetheless Christmas to me is being with my family – under the hot sun shining on Australia.
Whether you are cold or warm today, I hope you have a magical Christmas and thank you for reading my blog in 2014. May the New Year be everything you imagined.