It’s taken me awhile to get used to an Aussie Christmas but these days I am really enjoying getting into the spirit of the holiday season. I chalk that up in part to having a tiny human in my home and in part to keeping some of my family’s American Christmas traditions alive and well. We waited until after Thanksgiving to buy our tree, used an American quantity of twinkling lights to decorate it and hung our stockings from the chimney with care. I made high fat, low carb Christmas cookies to decorate which nearly killed the neighbor’s dog (apparently Xylitol, which is a natural sugar alternative is highly potent to dogs) sort of like my grandmother would have. We’ve watched Elf and Christmas Vacation. I will let Valentina open one present on Christmas Eve before we read “The Night Before Christmas” just like my dad always does. On Christmas morning we will wake up early and tear open all the gifts before going for a swim. Yep, we go to the beach on Christmas Day and go swimming. After all these years in Australia, I still hate pavlova but have learned to love a summertime Christmas nonetheless.
This post was originally featured on Twist Travel Magazine, check it out here.
Surfing Santas’ in Australia
Celebrating Christmas down under means BBQs, beach days, camping trips and surfing Santas! In Australia, Christmas is less about chestnuts roasting on an open fire and more about peel-and-eat prawns (shrimp) cooking on the barbie. Since it is summer, Australian Santas ride surfboards instead of sleds!!!
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Australians celebrate by having a different Christmas party with every group of people they know… These parties start in early November and culminate with Christmas Eve when most people, including adults, start their 2 to 3 week Christmas break. Christmas day begins with a swim in the ocean with family, followed by a massive lunch of fresh seafood, salads and pavlova and trifle.
For those not hip to these well-loved desserts, pavlova is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream and trifle is a dessert with layers of fruit, sponge cake soaked in sherry, and custard. Australians also like to celebrate Boxing Day which is December 26th with family, another BBQ and by watching the Sydney to Hobart sailing race on TV or from a boat on Sydney’s harbor. Everyone enjoys Christmas leftovers and most dads and grandpas will watch the cricket match on TV, which goes ALL day long. Cricket games go so long they stop for tea in the middle of the game!
Christmas for Kids in Australia
For kids, Christmas time means school’s out for summer! The school year finishes right before Christmas so most families like to go camping or travel during the summer holidays which finish at the end of January. Campgrounds all over Australia are packed full of kids swimming, playing, riding bikes and having the time of their lives. Some families even set up camp for the entire Christmas holiday period which is usually over 6 weeks long!
Christmas time is such an amazing time to be in Australia because we combine all the fun of summer with the most exciting holiday of the year. Australians lovingly refer to this time as the “silly season” because everyone basically goes silly with parties, great food and good times with family. It is truly a happy time for all, maybe that’s why Aussies say “Happy Chrissy!” to each other as they put on Santa hats and go for a surf!