6 Things We Do For a Down Under Christmas

Christmas is Christmas the world over but Christmas Down Under is something unique. It’s summertime here in Australia and New Zealand and as the song goes, the living is easy. Sun, surf and sand glitter beneath bright blue skies, the gloriously red flowers of the Australian Christmas Bush sway in the hot wind, and Christmas stockings are more likely hanging beneath an air-conditioner than a fireplace. It’s called the “silly season” where everything is upside down or back to front, where New Zealand is the first in the world to celebrate a Christmas dawn, where we celebrate Christmas rituals in a traditional yet different way. It’s home and it’s what we know and for most of us Christmas wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.

So what are some of the things we do for a Down Under Christmas?

1. Santa Claus is coming to town! Our Down Under Santas may well end up with heatstroke but he’s everywhere you look. At the mall, where you can have your child’s picture taken with him. At the workplace, where he may’ve had a drop or two at a champagne breakfast. Or see him in one of the many Christmas parades held through out the cities and towns when the streets come alive with the spirit of Christmas. Everyone loves a parade, even Santa and his kangaroo-led sleigh.

2. Let’s have a singalong! You haven’t experienced Christmas Down Under until you’ve been to Carols by Candlelight. In big cities and country towns these open air concerts are very popular with everyone. Bring along a blanket, some candles, and sing Christmas carols to your heart’s content as the sun sets and the candlelight glows.

3. It’s holiday time! And summer holidays mean we usually break for Christmas and take a few weeks off to recharge our batteries. Families can spend Christmas Day at home eating until they burst or lazing at the beach… or both

4. And speaking of food… we celebrate Christmas Down Under in diverse ways. There’s the full traditional dinner with roast turkey and hot ham and all the trimmings still enjoyed by many despite the heat, all the way through to those saner folk who prefer seafood and barbecues. And we’re likely to be eating all that food at a beachside campsite or our own home.

5. Cricket anyone? Or a yacht race? The day after Christmas is another public holiday called Boxing Day, where you can either put your feet up and relax watching the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or you can play cricket with the family in the backyard. Or perhaps you’d prefer to turn the television channel over and watch the start of one of the world’s most prestigious ocean races – the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race.

6. Doing your bit for the economy! If you don’t like cricket or watching yacht’s race, you can get some exercise by fighting the crowds at the Boxing Day sales, when the day after Christmas is notorious for stores slashing their prices and urging shoppers to spend big. All you need is money, strong elbows, and a sense of direction in the early morning stampede, then you’ll more than likely grab a bargain or two.

So is there anything different about your Christmas? Or do you celebrate it in the traditional way? Perhaps you have some favourite traditions you’d like to share?

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21 Responses to “6 Things We Do For a Down Under Christmas”

  1. All I can say is, God bless air conditioners! Slaving away over a hot stove for a traditional Aussie Christmas lunch is no fun, unless you can cool the house down as well… and I do love my hot turkey and pork, with all the trimmings. Then Christmas pud, smothered in custard. Salad on Christmas Day just doesn’t cut the mustard somehow. Boxing Day, no worries, bring the salads on! In Australia we get the best of both worlds. Christmas cards with snow scenes (we can dream…), but sunny, warm days to enjoy. And then the other cards with Santa on a surfboard, or standing around in his board shorts and thongs. But yes, Maxine, one of the nicest things is the carols. No matter where you are around the world, Christmas is still about Jesus’ birth. Let’s celebrate that. Happy Christmas everyone.

  2. Malvina, thanks for dropping by. It’s great to hear what you’ll be doing for your Christmas.

    Thankfully it doesn’t look like we’re going to need the air-con tomorrow here in Melbourne. It’s been rainy and cold the last couple of days but the sun is shining through now. I’ve bought the prawns for a seafood lunch, but rather wish I had stuck to the traditional hot meal now. And I’ve just made an English-style trifle (hubby is English and loves his trifle at Christmas!) so we are having something that is traditional, if not hot.

    Enjoy your Christmas Day, Malvina. The best part is spending it with family.

  3. Hi Maxine,
    Love your take on Christmas. Being of Italian heritage we do things a little differently. My parents used to celebrate Christmas Eve and we’d have a large feast and wait up until midnight. When we were young, Santa (Babbo Natale) came in the late afternoon and left lots of presies for us 🙂 To be honest I don’t remember what we ate – except that it was special. I seem to remember that there was always pasta (maybe ravioli) and fish of some kind. And Papa always bought the traditional Panettone from the local Italian deli – which was the only place that sold pasta in those days! You bought it by the pound and it was wrapped in newspaper! Not in packets at the supermarket like we do now. Because my parents were from the north of Italy(city folk), we didn’t make our own pasta.

    My parents in law are country folk and therefore make their own pasta, bottle their own sauce, olives etc and they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day. Now that my parents are gone, we tend just to celebrate Christmas Day also because it’s difficult to organize my 3 teenage sons and their girlfriends for two Christmas functions. But I still have fond memories.

    Hugs and Merry Christmas to all!
    Serena

  4. Malvina and Serena, loved hearing about your Christmas celebrations. Maxine, I can swap you the slaving-over-a-hot-stove for the prawns if you like. *g* We have the traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and ham and steamed pudding afterward. When we were kids the best part was finding the silver coins in the pudding, a tradition that sadly died with the change of metals in coins. The best part of Christmas for me is having all the family together, it’s year’s end, and we kick back and appreciate the many joys that we have. And all that starts with mass on Christmas eve.

    Happt holidays, everyone.

  5. That would be, happY holidays.

    🙂

  6. Bron, I think you may have had a bit too much Christmas cheer . Hiccup.

    Serena, thanks so much for sharing your Christmas traditions with us. I know Australia is very multi-cultural, but growing up I never thought too much about what other nationalities did on Christmas Day, even here in Australia. Of course, now there’s so much in the papers and magazines it’s wonderful to be able to share in that diversity.

    Merry Christmas!

    Maxine

  7. Nice to see Malvina and Serena here.
    Speaking of different nationalities celebrating the birth of Jesus reminds me of when we had the backpackers hostel. We kept fairly much to tradition, but there was a women’s only backpackers around the corner (still is) called Frauenreisehaus and they celebrated Christmas Eve with a pot luck dinner and gave presents. Many Europeans apparently have their present giving on Christmas Eve, but still spend Chrissie day with family, no doubt eating and drinking way too much. As I have today.
    I’m not one for family Christmas much, maybe because I have no kids, but boy, I enjoyed today. All of us together for the first time in years. Goodness knows when that will happen again.
    But watching the news tonight and for once there was only good news, I resolved to spend next Christmas Day at the City Mission, helping out. So long as I don’t have to sing…sad to think that in a rich country like ours, they had 2000 turn up in Auckland and about 700 here in our little town.
    Anyway, Merry Christmas all, however you spend it.
    Jan

  8. Jan, I’m so glad your family was able to enjoy Christmas together this year. It will be a special memory to keep.

    I too, watched the news here in Melbourne showing all the homeless and disadvantaged people turning up at the City Mission for a Christmas lunch. They interviewed an older couple who said their family are grown and it was just them so they decided to come and help out. Another couple said they come and help out every year just to give something back. I imagine they get as much enjoyment in doing that as they give to others. And then they showed a young man sitting at a table eating his Christmas lunch and he said he was homeless and he had nowhere else to go and you could see how thankful he was to be there eating food and sharing Christmas with others, even if they were strangers. It brought a tear to my eye and still does just thinking about it. No matter their circumstances, I’m so glad there are wonderful people out there who are able to give so much. Thank you to them. And good for you, Jan, for resolving to help out next year.

    Maxine

  9. Well, we were blessed with a wonderful family afternoon which stretched out into the evening where we had so much of everything it made us all realise, again, how lucky we are.

    Jan, good on you for wanting to help at your local City Mission next Christmas, and even if you have to sing I’m sure no one will really mind! 😉

    To our readers in the rest of the world who are just starting or just finishing your Christmas celebrations I hope you all enjoy the best of everything with the ones who are the most important to you.

  10. Heh heh, on the other side of the coin, there are some who push it just a bit too far. One Christmas at the hostel, our private party got crashed by a middle-aged Englishman (one of our guests) who proudly announced that he had gone to the City Mission for his Christmas dinner. He was so full of himself for getting a free meal and he even lined up with the children when they gave out presents and was a little brassed off to be told it was for kids only. I asked if he was so poor, I was actually a little disgusted with him, and he proudly showed me the NZ$1200 in his wallet. Needless to say, he got short shrift from our private party. He had 30 other backpackers to talk to, and we’d put on chicken and salads and cake and beer and wine for them, so he had little excuse to muscle in on the Mission – or us, for that matter!
    Takes all types…
    Jan

  11. Jan, yes, there’s always some who will get what they can. I must admit I looked at some of them at the City Mission and wondered how many really needed the food, especially when some were so well-dressed. And then I felt guilty. Appearances can be deceptive as we well know. But, as I’m sure you do too, I concentrate on knowing that the genuinely needy will benefit from all the generosity. Thank God for the givers of this world.

    Yvonne, I’m so glad you had a wonderful family Christmas. We’re so lucky to be able to share it with the ones we love.

    Maxine

  12. Hmmm…a warm Christmas. Well we don’t have snow on the ground or anything like that during Christmas here. I think it was in the 40s here and raining on Christmas day. But sunny and warm would be different for me. LOL. Just like snow and freezing would be. HAHA. IF it snows around here everything stops b/c we don’t see it often enough.

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

  13. Misty, at least it was raining and cool where you are, so you can get into the spirit of a white Christmas. Not that we don’t get into the spirit of Christmas Down Under. Just not a white one. *g*

    Maxine

  14. I could have done without the rain. HAHA. Having seen a white Christmas in years, but who knows. 😉 We all have the spirit…just different ways of doing things. Nothing wrong with that. 😀 Love this blog, btw!

    Misty

  15. I think the reason so many Australians and New Zealanders still have a ‘traditional’ Christmas dinner despite our hot weather is thanks to our past UK ancestors, where the full roast dinner with all the trimmings is the norm – and they’ve brought those traditions with them from the UK to Oz. For example, I had three English grandparents, my mother-in-law is English and so is my son’s mother-in-law. My father would have fainted if my mother served up a cold Christmas lunch, so would my DH (not that he’d complain, he’d just be wistful). As for my son’s MIL, her family would be horrified if she departed from tradition. May I mention here that her Christmas pudding is the best I’ve ever tasted, it is brilliant – and she always warms the brandy, pours it over, then sets it on fire. Magnificent! Personally speaking, I look forward to cooking all-out once a year. And it *is* only once a year, so why not. 🙂 But, as everyone has said, it’s not the food that makes the day, it’s family, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. A wonderful thing to bring people together!

  16. Hi everyone!

    Misty – we’ve had a few Christmas’s in the 40s… celcius, that is 🙂

    When I was younger, we had a Xmas Eve tradition of going to the movies. And of course, being English, the big day was pressies in the morning, bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast, then a traditional lunch (Aussie-ized) with prawn cocktail to start, then roast turkey, yorshire pud, baked potato et al, then trifle to follow. These days, we have smorgasbord for lunch and leave the big meal for dinner – my I-only-want-chicken-chippies 7yo isn’t a big lunch eater.

    Serena – I remember you told the ROMAUS loop about your Christmas traditions ages ago. I still have the notes for one of my Italian heroes!

  17. Malvina, I also love the once-a-year go-all-out cookathon at Christmas. And setting the table just so. I haul out the good cutlery and crockery — it just gets the one outing each year. When I was younger I never thought that I would turn out to be such a traditionalist, but in the case of Christmas I am all that!

  18. LOL. Paula. 😀 I’m hungry now. HAHAHA!

  19. Karen King Says:

    Oh Yes! Chrissie, a real neat time, Last year a refused to put names on the girls parcels, big as they are, they still go poking, it was the funniest day out, believe it or not, some of the parcels, I couldn’t remember whose was who’s. But we all love tradition, trees crackers, xmas pud and pressies. I worked at our hospital here for several years and the staff all went singing carolls around the wards with candles, it really was special, and Jan it don’t matter if you sing out of tune, I certainly did. But, one day I would like to be somewhere, where we could spend a white christmas, what a dream!

  20. Hi All
    We celebrate with all the hot food turkey pork ham baked vegies and gravy and then christmas pudding with custard (which I am making tomorrow the fruit is soaking now ) I have made 5 christmas ckes because I give some as gifts. Yep we eat all day and then on Boxing Day it is the cricket in our house and lots of salad with the leftover meat. I am soo glad we have an air condtioner although growing up we didin’t and they days were so hot but that is Chrissy in OZ
    Have Fun
    Helen

  21. Helen, it sounds like a great day at your place. And you’re making me very hungry. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Let’s hope it’s not too hot this year on Christmas Day.

    Maxine

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