Blog & Insights

How to do Christmas – the Australian way

If you’re new to Australia, you might not be overly familiar with a hot sunny Christmas, or even Christmas by the beach. More shockingly, you may never before have seen a surfing Santa in board shorts and thongs. Prepare yourself, because that is all about to change.

The blend of nationalities that makes up modern Australia means that Christmas is heavily inspired by winter-based European customs. And whilst it might seem crazy to cook up that full turkey dinner on a blazing hot summers day – for us Aussies, this is completely normal. But true to Aussie individuality, we have also contributed our own unique festive twists along the way. Here’s how.

Yuletide traditions

Many Aussie Christmas traditions are actually no different to other western-based cultures. We love the fruit mince pies and carols combo, we also hang up our stockings for Santa, and we can’t wait to get the lights up on the tree. Equally, there are no excuses needed to toast in the season with friends and family.

But there are also some very particular Christmas customs that are purely Australian-made, and they are what makes Christmas here in Australia so very unique.

Christmas is simply not Christmas without the annual tradition of Carols by Candlelight ringing out in every major Australian city. What started out as a small Melbourne-based event has now become a nationwide celebration with celebrities and spectators alike gathering together to ring in the seasonal cheer. There’s not a dry eye in the house.

For coastal dwellers, hitting the beach for a salty dip on Christmas Day is a rite of passage that absolutely must be observed. Don’t be alarmed if you see beachy areas ring-fenced with canopies and eskies by 7am. There are some who will spend the whole of Christmas day on the beach starting with a bucks fizz for breakfast and only finishing when the last person leaves. Bagging that perfect spot is serious business.

The lead up to Christmas is awash with street parties as communities come together to celebrate the festive season. Special council licenses are issued that allow certain streets to be closed off to traffic, and the air is full of clinking glasses, laughter and conversation – and of course, backyard cricket.

Camping is an incredibly popular summer pastime and Christmas Day is no exception. If you fancy waking up with the sunshine and welcoming in this special day in the most natural of environments, surrounded by your nearest and dearest in a picture perfect spot – be sure to book in early. There are some campsites where the pitches are so popular, they are passed down through generations.

Boxing Day is all about more of the same. But add in a BBQ, the test cricket and for some, hitting those sales. Each year the Aussie cricket team head to Melbourne’s MCG to play an opposing national team, and each year there are sets of eyes glued to the screens at the backyard BBQ as the start of summer cricket begins.

The tucker

With the heat of summer upon us, the festive menu takes on all the usual traditions but adds a special Aussie twist. On the big day itself, meals can range from a simple picnic on the beach, through to a roving buffet, a backyard barbie or a sit-down turkey meal with all the trimmings. To be clear, there is no day where the common snag is not welcome.

Sharing the load is very common place amongst the guests. Rather than the host being responsible for all the catering, each party will bring along an allocated dish to contribute to the day’s events.

Fish is a popular summertime choice, with many heading to the famous fish markets to choose their perfect partner as well as to load up on the mandatory prawns. Ham regularly holds a centre spot, proudly boasting a lovingly crafted glaze and salads every which way are the order of the day.

Bowls of fresh cherries are synonymous with Aussie Christmas, closely followed by fruit-laden pavlovas, and the classic Aussie coconut-infused White Christmas dessert. Don’t be surprised to meet the odd Christmas Pudding or two. This medieval dessert has been warmly embraced since the Europeans arrived on these shores.

That holiday feeling

And of course, along with the Christmas season comes the lengthy summer break. So in fact the best part about this time of year is really that school is out for summer! Once you’ve feasted on Christmas treats, sung your heart out at carol services and kept a beady eye on the latest cricket score, you can focus back in on your holiday schedule. That means long days at the beach, warm tropical nights and lots and lots of zeds.

Looking for ideas? Check out our summer guides to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for more exciting activities to fill your holiday break!

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