There are plenty of classic elements that Northern Hemisphere folk associate with the holidays – flannel pyjamas, drinking coffee in said PJs all morning, looking through frosted windows framing winter wonderlands of snowman potential, big roasts, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc etc.
Christmas in the southern half of the planet falls in the height of summer’s heat so the landscape is something different from a Northerner’s experience. But, if you were to spend the winter-turned-summer holidays in Australia, you would likely find that Christmas celebrations are fantastically festive, rooted in familiar traditions with a distinctly Down Under twist.
Breakfast & The Beach
Sunrise hits between 5:00-5:45am in Australia on Christmas day so don’t get any ideas about having a sleep in. Once the household is up, for Western Australian Reece McMillan, mornings begin with fresh fruits accompanied by ham and cheese croissants while sitting out back in pyjamas, which at that time of year is shorts and maybe a singlet or tank top. “Xmas presents are in a big pile, and it’s basically a couple of hours of eating, having a drink, talking shit with the family, and playing with the younger kids in the sun.”
If you make the trek to build a corncob-piped sandman, breakfast at the beach on Christmas Day will likely include celebratory champagne, freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh pastries. “The day will invariably include good wishes and greetings from other beachgoers, Santa hats or reindeer antler headbands, and the ubiquitous thwack of a cricket bat,” adds Perth’s Angela Lumsden.
Stay Cool by the Pool
If there’s no beach to be had, hanging by the pool or running through sprinklers out back are mainstays for beating the Christmas heat. “I have strong memories of my dad rolling out long plastic sheets and making water slides for my cousins and us.” Port Lincoln’s Rob Lang recalls.
And whether you’re at the beach or kickin’ it in the backyard, there will invariably be a game of Christmas cricket or family football being played not far away.
Perilous Tree Farming
Christmas trees are still a staple in many households so family activities like the choosing of the Christmas tree at the farm are well-anticipated events. Just watch out for the “snakes underfoot and saucer-sized spiders strung in the aisles between the trees.” Lumsden cautions.
The Long Lunch and Too Much Pavlova
Christmas lunch is often the main meal of the day with leftovers being picked at well into the evening. Unless you’re pumping the AC to have a roasted ham indoors, the family luncheon is held al fresco on verandahs set up with BBQs, salads, fresh fruit, and prawn, prawns, prawns (Christmas in Australia, it would seem, is long form for the word prawns).
“Usually I have a family lunch made up of a few kilos of fresh prawns and a selection of summer salads. My mum makes a great pavlova that everyone always eats too much of,” says Sydney’s Kara Riley. And if you’re prepping for the Christmas long lunch, be sure to offer lots of salad options. “Last year I made 8 different salads,” adds Adelaide’s Gillian Vann.
“We have Christmas lunches that seriously make you question your sanity sometimes.”
Twinkling lights are a core Christmas adornment and Australians too can be found touring neighbourhoods in search of the best displays of the season. As the day wraps up and transitions into night, Christmas carollers dwindle and the last of the lights can be seen wrapped around palm trees, closing another festive holiday of satiated summer celebrations.
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