Christmas in Australia is very different from the Northern Hemisphere. It’s in the midst of summer and most of the continent is well-known for scorching temperatures! Still, images of snow at this time of year prevail there and worldwide: there were snowflake decorations in Thailand and Cambodia when we were there a few years ago, too.
Christmas and perfect snow-covered scenes may be almost synonymous, but that doesn’t mean a hot celebration is anything less. There are many things to love about summer at the end of the year, and for Aussies it’s just the way things are.
One of the best things is what many people love about summertime anywhere: swimming! Whether we live near a beach or not, Australian summers mandate a lot of cooling off. My family loves our local splash park and we spend many evenings having picnics with friends through the holiday season. Sometimes we visit family and friends in Adelaide over the break, too.
On hot Christmas afternoons you’ll often find people lazing in their pools or kids squealing with delight playing with their new backyard water set-ups. Water toys and games are common gifts and get much use over the six-week school holiday period.
Cherries are a cheery highlight at this time of year, too. They can evoke images of Christmas, being the traditional colours and always available in December. Their peak ripeness happily coincides with Christmas and they adorn most tables for snacking and desserts.
Many families enjoy a tradition of picking their own boxes at local orchards, and bringing the juiciest selections to a Christmas party is always a winning contribution.
On the topic of food, Australians have made Christmas meals our own over the past decade or two. As you can imagine, on a hot day, these traditional dinners were very heavy and filling.
Nowadays some of the traditions remain but the meals are lighter and more in tune with seasonal produce. Seafood features heavily for many families, with Moreton bay bugs and lobsters a decadent treat to share. Some meats and vegetables may still be roasted, but they’re likely to be accompanied by bright salads and prawn cocktails.
Other families choose to forgo roasting completely and barbeque their favourite foods, making the most of the weather and many an Australian’s favourite appliance!
Cold meats are also common, but even for vegetarians and vegans, Australians don’t miss out on festive foods. Salads featuring the best of summer’s fruits and vegetables, roast potatoes or corn on the bbq, and desserts to knock your socks off make Australian Christmas meals a highlight for everyone.
Pavlovas are a traditional dessert that show off ripe mangoes or stone fruits, and it’s a much lighter option than a pudding. And they’ve let creativity loose now with creations like fruit mince ice cream cakes, fresh fig and berry tarts, or Christmas-pudding bliss balls being beautiful alternatives to finish off the feast.
Christmas Does Not Have to Be Cold!
Celebrating the holidays and summertime together is a lovely combination that you should consider experiencing at least once. Many people feel that “it’s just not Christmas!” if they’re not cosy inside watching snowflakes gently falling, and of course it doesn’t feel that way there. But if you can put the notion aside that Christmas = cold, it can be appreciated on a whole new level for the happy activities, food and sunshine on offer.