Although we’re heavily influenced by American culture, there’s no denying that Christmas in Australia is a polarizing affair. Summer in the southern hemisphere can be brutal, and we adjust our celebrations to fit the weather and our stereotypically happy go lucky nature.
Some traditions make perfect sense, others…not so much. If you’re thinking about heading down under for the holiday season, here’s a few differences, and things you’ll need to be warned about.
1. It’s too hot for ‘ugly Christmas sweaters.’
We all wish we could recreate that super cute Christmas jumper scene between Bridget Jones and Mr Darcy, but none of us want to die from heat exhaustion. You’re much more likely to see a swimming shorts/singlet/sunglasses and Santa hat combo. The weather is beautiful, and we’re especially silly in the silly season, embrace it.
2. The decorations look strange.
Summer is boiling, but we like to pretend it’s cold, with traditional plastic pine trees for decorating, and fake snow in the front yard, even though we’re sweating buckets and burning our feet on the sand at the beach. Santa is endlessly grateful for air conditioning because he refuses to give up on the red suit and boots.
3. You’ll probably see Santa on a fire truck.
I still don’t know why we do this, but in many Australian suburbs, close to Christmas, Santa will team up with the local fire brigade and drive around town throwing bags of lollies to the kids and making a lot of noise.
4. Our public transport takes Christmas far too seriously.
Everything looks normal, and your day is going just fine until you jump on a bus to town for some lunch and then BAM. Tinsel and tackiness EVERYWHERE. Granted not every bus drive takes part, but when they do, they go all out. Ifyou’re super lucky the driver will be playing carols and stamp your ticket with Christmas cheer.
5. There’s SO.MUCH.FOOD.
We love to drink and eat just like anyone, and the amount of tasty delights that adorn the Christmas lunch table would rival any American Thanksgiving. In some households, Grandma will insist on making a roast, despite the sweltering heat, but most lunches involve cold cuts, seafood, salads, fresh fruit, trifle and the infamous pavlova. We can usually feed a small army at least until New Years Eve.
6. You might be drunk by lunchtime.
There are some stereotypes that we just can’t hide from. Loving beer is one of them. Christmas is a time that Aussies drink. A lot. Combine a hot summer day with family, friends and outdoor fun and you’ve basically got one big party. We make punch, have champagne with breakfast and spend the afternoon with beer in hand, so don’t be surprised if you’re tipsy by the time all the presents are open.
7:. We do celebrate Christmas Eve, but no one opens presents!
For most Aussie families, Christmas Eve is all about preparing for the next day. Family time, drives to see the Christmas lights and putting together bikes and swing sets at 2am are all common occurrences in many households with little ones.
8. The afternoon is all about playing and naps.
By mid afternoon on Christmas day, we’re all very full of Christmas lunch and tuckered out from opening presents and spending time with family. Usually, afternoons are spent napping by the pool, or playing with the hose, maybe even water pistols if you got some from Santa.
9. We have our own Christmas Carols, but they’re a joke.
We know we’re weird, and we like to laugh at ourselves and celebrate our differences. Someone thought it would be a cool idea to swap the lyrics to some of your favorite holiday tunes to Australian-ise them. Replace reindeers with kangaroos and snow with bushland and you get the idea.
10. It’s basically the best time ever.
What could beat a long summer day party with loved ones, sunshine and all the food and drink you can imagine? It might not be what you’re used to, but if you’re wondering what Aussie culture is all about, Christmas is actually one of the best times to experience it.
If you want to discover more amazing destinations or learn all the tips and tricks to planning your next vacation, please subscribe to our Tours4fun Newsletter below.