How is Christmas in Australia?
Christmas is a great time for most western culture’s people to get together with their family members to celebrate together as a whole collective family, which in most cases they don’t have so many opportunities to do so in this ever busy world we live in. This is a time to share food, company, festive spirits, life updates and to have the children run around together like crazy sugar filled monkeys. In other words, a festive experience with a little mayhem thrown in. In Australia, this is also the case but, the only difference being, that unlike our northern hemisphere brothers, Australia is in its summer period, which goes against the traditional concept of Christmas being a time of winter and of snow filled fun. However being different has never bothered Australians and we revel in the unique experience of our hot summer Christmases.
While the concept of the “Spirit of Christmas” still endures in Australia, a lot of the practical traditions and practices have over time adapted to our outdoor and carefree lifestyle and the spirit that is “being an Aussie” and has taken on a very individual Christmas style in comparison to our international friends. We are going to talk about some of the Australian Christmas traditions and try to describe what an Aussie Christmas day is like.
First and foremost, Christmas is primarily for the benefit of the Children and the first thing that families do is get up at the crack of dawn, usually at the behest of the kids and initiate the traditional Christmas gift exchange. This has rules, the main one is that the male head of the family (usually Dad) is the designated as “Santa Claus” and whose job is to sit by the Christmas tree and distribute the accumulated gifts to the immediate family members. Christmas is about giving and sharing and the exchange of gifts is an important aspect of the Christmas tradition everywhere around the world that actually celebrates it.
The Australian Christmas is taken outdoors, whether it be to a park or at the beach. Australians love to do all things outdoors. Most families would have an outdoor excursion planned where they would pack up the entire family and head to an outdoor venue and have food and outdoor activities prepared. This is a great time for the family to get outside, play sports and have all sorts of fun with the children and generally make each other totally exhausted. This however is not the actual main meal or eating event that is planned for most family Christmases. This is the entertainment part of the Christmas day’s festivities.
The main Christmas lunch or dinner is held at one designated household where the extended family members are all cordially invited to, for example, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and in laws alike. Usually this is all set up on multiple dining tables because of the numbers of relative and most definitely involves the chief male figure of the family (mostly the Dad) being in charge of the barbeque to provide the multitude of family members with an assortment meats from steaks, sausages, prawns, whole snapper fish, oysters, chicken and roast meats. On the other side of the cooking spectrum the ladies of the families would have a great variety of dishes prepared for the rest of the culinary experience for example (potato bake, trifle, Christmas pudding, cold meats, Pavlova, potato salad, white Christmas slice, coleslaw, many varies salads with meat, prawn cocktails, sausage rolls and pasta bakes) to name but a few. These titanic eating events are noisy, funny, involve a lot of BWS (beer, wine and spirits) and generally last for many hours. Children run madly around everywhere with their cousins playing with their newly opened Christmas gifts and often ending up under the dinner tables annoying the adults with their monkey-like behaviours.
In the evening of Christmas, the family would usually sing carols and do other worldwide traditional Christmas activities, such as watch Christmas movies, go around the neighbourhood and look at the houses that have been decorated with Christmas lights, eat the leftovers from the Christmas lunch and for the most part recover from the busy endeavours of the Christmas day events. If you think about Christmas, you usually think about a “White Christmas” with snow, snowmen and Santa travelling around the world with his reindeer and sleigh in a winter wonderland. Well, in Australia, we do things differently. We play cricket, swim, surf, play Christmas rugby and generally spend the day burning as many calories exercising as we do gaining them by eating all of the amazing Christmas foods on a very hot summer’s day. This is the “Australian Christmas experience”.