Whilst a European Christmas has a number of cosy perks, like snowy markets, Glühwein and candles, an Aussie Christmas has its own unique charm. Sweltering temperatures, bikinis and sandy beaches with friends and family are just what the doctor ordered this year! So, how do we celebrate Down Under? I’m glad you asked! We steal a lot of traditions from England, only here, they don’t quite make sense, so they have evolved into something new. Let me explain…
The Christmas Tree
Either you get a fresh pine tree no more than a week before Christmas, so that it doesn’t wilt before the big day, or you buy a plastic one – a safer but less aromatic option. Then, we decorate it with colourful tinsel, baubles and a big star on top! Unfortunately, we can’t put real candles on the branches or it might cause a bushfire. Nonetheless, fairy lights help create that magical glow on Christmas Eve.
Cake and Beer
As it is likely to be pretty hot work flying all the presents around Australia at this time of year, we offer Father Christmas some Aussie hospitality and leave out a slice of Christmas Cake and a bottle of beer to help him on his way. If you made the effort to write him a letter, he will usually reply, though I must say, his handwriting has deteriorated over the last few decades, probably from all those beers he drinks along the way!
A Dip in the Ocean
If you live right next to the beach, you have to take advantage of it at this time of year. BBQ some fresh seafood, chuck a few cold beers in the esky and bring a frisbee or a cricket bat to get some friendly games going. If you live further inland, most back yards will have an inflatable swimming pool at this time of year, so you can escape the searing temperatures. This year, it appears the weather will be slightly cooler, though you can still wander around in shorts and a singlet, so it isn’t too bad really!
Of course, we stole many Christmas traditions from England, including the roast turkey, cold ham and pudding with brandy butter. We just adapt it a bit sometimes by adding some fresh prawns, salads and stone fruits. In fact, you will nearly always find a mango at the toe of your Christmas stocking, as they are perfectly in season at this time of year! Cherries are also prominent on the menu, along with giant slabs of watermelon.
The Christmas Stocking
As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than leaving an empty stocking at the foot of the bed, complete with a neatly-written letter to Father Christmas, greedily asking for the newest toys and an excessive amount of sweets. The next day, we would awake super early to find the stocking brimming with gifts! This tradition lasted a lot longer than the old man hoped, though he did get a beer every year, and Rudolph would always leave stray pieces of carrot on the lawn to show us his appreciation.
Just like the Northern Hemisphere, we have Christmas carols too, with a slight Australian twist. We like to make fun of ourselves here in Oz, so you will find a huge range of all the old classics, re-invented to suit our unique culture! On that note, I will leave you with an original Aussie Jingle Bells to get you in the spirit! Merry Christmas everyone!
How does your culture celebrate Christmas? Have you got any different traditions to share?