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Christmas time in Australia, for our American and Overseas Friends.........

by Connie Lynn Riley

The first Christmas Celebrations in Australia have their roots in late 1788 and were introduced by convicts of the First Fleet, who arrived in Sydney Harbour early that same year. 

From the 19th century onwards, the tradition of erecting Christmas trees, the sending of Christmas cards and the display of decorations spread throughout Australia.

Since that time, Christmas in Australia has remained an officially observed holiday and is celebrated as a traditional summer-time occasion (but with our own unique Aussie twists....)


Just a few of our uniquely Australian Christmas Traditions......

1.      Surfing Santa

Traditional Santa’s wear bright red fleecy suits, lined with white fur and big black boots to fight off the northern winter.

In Australia, its summer at Christmas time so you’re much more likely to see a boardshort wearing Santa on a surfboard.  It’s not an official tradition by any means, but if you find yourself on a beach on Christmas day, you’ll probably catch an early morning surfer wearing a Santa hat.

2.      Eating Prawns

While our British and American friends are feasting on roast turkey, baked potato and hot chocolate.

Aussies are packing up the Esky for a picnic or setting up folding tables to eat outside.  Most families in Australia will send someone to do a “prawn run” in the morning.  This is where you get up super early and get to the local markets to buy the freshest and biggest prawns for Christmas Day.  Many seafood stores will be packed on Christmas morning with grumpy parents or bored teenagers who have been sent on the prawn run.

3.      Street Parties

Its summer in December in Australia so street parties are very popular.  Sometimes in the evening on Christmas Day, impromptu street parties happen.  Most people visit relatives on Christmas Day so the streets are full of the families and children usually playing games, usually Cricket.

4.       Festive Road Trips

Depending on where your family live, Christmas Day may involve a long road trip.  It’s an accidental tradition at best, but lots of Aussie families’ Christmas celebrations include a drive in a hot car, with children in the back seat.  It means that lots of Australian children spend many hours squished in back seats with piles of pillows, siblings, presents, the Esky and a basket of food around the Christmas holidays.

5.       Carols by Candlelight

Most cities and towns in Australia host their own Carols by Candlelight and there will usually be a few celebrity performers singing tradition Christmas songs.  Proceeds from the performance are usually donated to charity.  There’s often a main Carols by Candlelight performed in a major city but other cities will often host their own events too.  Families pack picnics, blankets, candles and mosquito spray and spend the evening outdoors listening to Christmas music.

6.       Christmas Lunch

In Australia, Christmas meals do not happen at dinnertime, we’re mostly Christmas lunch people.  Unless you have to spend Christmas with more than one family in which case, you’re likely to have Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Christmas is an all-day affair in Australia with lots of eating.


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