Community Opinion

Upside Down Under

An Australian Christmas…..

Have you ever wondered what Christmas is like in Australia? Many of us are aware of Norwegian, Danish and German traditions but few of us know what happens in Australia during the holiday season.

By Marvin Baker

Many of us have friends or relatives there so it might be good to see how they spend the hot days of the Christmas season.

• As an example, there’s carols by candlelight. Every major city has an event like this on Christmas Eve. A huge amount of money is raised for charity. It is always televised so if people can’t attend, they can sing along at home. Carols by candlelight usually draws the biggest-name celebrities in Australia.

• Road trips are a common thing as a lot of families live far apart. It’s not unusual for everyone to jump in the car and travel days to spend Christmas with other family members far away.

• Street parties take place all over from Sydney to Perth and from Adelaide to Darwin.

Remember, Christmas Day is just four days after the summer solstice so it is generally a very hot day.

Neighborhoods get together, set up tables and chairs and visit. They all bring a meal to share with others and sit around enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes the parties go well into the next morning.

• Christmas lunch has been around a long time. It usually consists of cold meats and lots of salads. Eating shrimp and other seafood is also very common, and fish markets tend to make a huge profit due to a massive increase in sales. It also means a mandatory never-ending bowl of cherries.

Some people still have the more traditional fare of roast turkey, pork and ham with lots of roasted vegetables followed by plum pudding. Thus a lot of Australians tend to overeat during the holiday season.

• All schools close mid-December and re-open at the end of January. That means a lot of road trips with many families going camping over the Christmas holiday. Some go to the beach, and others go into the bush.

• Most of us are at least familiar with Boxing Day. In Australia, it’s tradition for families and friends to gather and enjoy each other’s company once again. The food is normally left over from Christmas lunch. It means a lot of steaks and sausages cooked on the grill, washed down with a few drinks and followed by the very enjoyable game of backyard cricket.

• There’s also the Boxing Day Test, as it is called Down Under. It’s a cricket match that is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar. It is held in Melbourne every year at the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground normally between Australia and England. Tens of thousands of people converge on the Melbourne Cricket Ground for this match. And much like American football, if Australians can’t attend the game in person, they will gather around the TV to watch.

• Australians like to decorate their homes and yards and often use an Australian flair such as an inflatable Santa Claus holding a surf board.

• Australia is a nation of Christians, and gift giving, like we learn in the Bible, is common. Those who may be Greek Orthodox or Arabic, also exchange gifts for goodwill.

• Santa Claus doesn’t actually take his reindeer to deliver gifts to Australian children. It’s just too hot. So to circumvent that issue, legend has it that Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as he is sometimes called, uses a team of kangaroos to get toys to all the children.

• Being a nation of nearly 25 million people, a lot of Australians work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – they prepare meals, they produce newspapers, they tend to the sick in hospitals. For those who miss the festivities, many will listen to radio broadcasts, tell Christmas stories about the Outback or have their own little office party. Some of those who work on the holiday are part of the Australian military. When that happens, cooks will fill the dining facilities with traditional Christmas meals and desserts so the service members have a little bit of tradition while on duty.

• Most importantly, families go to church on Christmas Eve. Many of the Catholic faith will attend midnight Mass while still others attend church on Christmas Day. Following the Christmas Eve services, the families rush home, the children set out milk and cookies, then go to sleep. They want to make sure that Santa’s kangaroos deliver the Christmas toys to their house.