This year I had a Christmas in Australia. Feeling too uninspired to take the mammoth journey home to Yorkshire, I spent the festive period with Lucas (boyfriend) and his family just outside of Melbourne. It was so so fun and a great trip BUT, I have to admit, mostly, it didn’t really feel like Christmas! I know right…what does it even mean to “feel like Christmas”?! This is something I have pondered and I find it hard to describe, especially to people from the Southern Hemisphere but Christmas has a feeling! So, for those of you making a move this way in the world or just wondering, I thought I’d better get some quick lil points out about what it was really at Christmas in the sunshine and how this compares to Christmas back home in the UK. Here it is:
(I’m sorry, Kiwi movers and Kiwi residents, that this is an Aussie post not a Kiwi post but surely its similar? If not, comment below and let me know what the Kiwi Christmas is like)
MY experience of Christmas Down Under: Christmas in Australia – 20 Things I learnt!
- It is hot – This seems obvious but Christmas in Australia hits in mid summer so wherever you are in the country its probably going to be hot, or at least warm. Quite a contrast to the nights huddled by the fire back in Yorkshire. Not a problem, I mean, I am a huge fan of summer, but it just means that the atmosphere is distinctly different and the things you are able to go out and do are also different.
- It stays light until late – Similarly to my previous point, I am not complaining, but there is something about the 5 OClock darkness and twinkly festive lights and cold evenings that just FEEEELS like Christmas. Anyone with me here? And in Aussie its light until 9. Just, different!
- They still have Christmas trees – I thought this was odd at first, I mean why have a tree? You cant see the lights until 9pm and your outside most of the time anyway because the weather is so great, so why?! But Lucas rightly put me in my place and explained that it is tradition and fun to do with the family, so yes, they still have Christmas trees at Christmas in Aus (and NZ).
- People take a big break from work – I know this is probably general but a lot of the people I spent time with over Christmas in Aussie had a giant christmas break of almost 3 weeks. This is definitely not how it works back home as most people work until Christmas Eve and then go back straight after new year. But then again, its summer in Australia so a big excuse for people to take the time off and go away. Woohoo!
- No christmas carols – I heard no Christmas carols, I’m sure that they are sung somewhere but there were few to be heard ringing in the streets and knocking at the door like there are back home.
- I didn’t hear old lang sayne – This about new year rather not Christmas but we didn’t sing it. No one sang it!
- No christmas songs in shops (thank god!) – Keeping on the music theme, I didn’t hear any christmas songs playing in any of the shops/cafes/radio this christmas which, is probably a good thing, considering how terrible christmas music can be but back home in the UK, I would most definitely have heard some cheesy songs.
- Christmas/new year camping is popular – Straight after christmas this year, we headed up the coast to a campground in Mallacoota (if you ever get the chance to go there – do!), and it seemed like the rest of the Victorian population had the same idea. Our time was super chilled, amazing and boozy and I won’t forget it anytime soon. Which is why I understand the desire lots of Aussies have to take the family and friends camping somewhere around this time. Super fun – See Koala picture, that was right in our campsite.
- The booze flows – I may have mentioned this a little already, but there was boozing, a lot of boozing! Don’t get me wrong, there is loads of boozing back home in the UK too, but it is more of a (lot of) red wine by the fire type situation. In Aus, christmas was a party. NOT complaining!
- They still have turkey and ham – I was lead to believe that christmas in Australia meant seafood on the barbecue but this is not always the case, we still had a classic christmas dinner.
- And Christmas pudding – we also still had my favourite – christmas pud!
- But no mulled wine/ cider/ christmas market bratwurst! – In the last few years in the UK its become huge to have christmas markets in town centres similar to the German way. This is really lovely, sometimes a little over the top but you can go and grab an evening mulled wine and hotdog and feel all festive. Not happening in Aussie, but its summer after all
- Christmas crackers are called “BonBons” – Weird I know!
- They have “Christmas in July” in order to have a ‘real’ Christmas – It appears that some Aussies realise that a hot summer Christmas is not like a ‘real’ Christmas. Lucas’s grandma told me that some people have an extra christmas in July when it is cold so that they can celebrate christmas European style. Innnnteeresting!
- TV is not such a huge thing – This year I didn’t watch a single Christmas movie, episode or the Queens speech. Thats right NO TV at christmas! Then again it is summer and we just wanted to be outside. Again NOT complaining!
- Not many decorations – In Melbourne and in Wellington too, the cities were not filled with christmas lights and decorations. Then again, it gets dark at 9pm so I can understand why councils would not think it worth the cost to put lights up that no one will really see unless they are out really late. Who cares about these things anyway, right?!
- Decorations are still snowflakes and sleighs and snowmen – Even though there are fewer decorations around in Aussie (and in NZ), the ones that are around are still snowflakes, snowmen, santa in his cosy outfit etc. I mean, shouldn’t it really be palm trees, suns and beaches? C’mon!
- Everyone does secret Santa and they call is Kris Kringle – Almost every Australian or Kiwi that I know was doing some kind of secret santa and they were calling it Kris Kringle. If anyone knows why it is called this? I would love to know too, please leave a comment and enlighten me!
- They still have work christmas parties but they call it work “breakup” – I suppose this is related to most people having a big holiday over christmas so its like breaking up from school for the summer – I guess?
- And finally – Its not as big of a deal – Now many may argue with this but it seems to me like Christmas just isn’t as big of a deal in Aussie and in New Zealand. There is no sign of it from as early as September, as there is in Europe. People are looking forward to their summer break rather than the christmas festivities in particular. This makes for a more lighthearted time in my opinion, but perhaps not as special? But I know, everyones experience is different so I don’t claim to account for everyone. Just give you a little idea!
One more afterthought: Coming back to work ain’t so bad here in the southern hem. January blues in the UK can be so hard, all the fun and games followed by bleak mid winter making going back to work is sometimes, just that little too much. But going back to work here in New Zealand doesn’t feel so bad, weekends are sunny, people are in a good mood, its still summer!
So there you have it, a little look at my Aussie christmas experience. Definitaly an amazing and unfogetable time with so many good points, but yeah, not really like Christmas (as I know it.) Hope that makes a bit more sense now!
Disclaimer: I know that christmas is a religious holiday and not just dinner and holidays but this is what I celebrate it for, so I haven’t included anything religious in my assessment. Sorry!
Anyway, what about you? Where was your Christmas and what were/are your experiences? Do leave a comment below this blog post as I’d love to know what you guys think about the whole Christmas thang!
Thanks for reading and come back soon!
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