Christmas celebrations in Australia are full of fun and family. However, when faced with 30-40°C (86-104°F) heat, Australian's have developed their own unique traditions!
The traditional baked Turkey or Ham was unbearable to prepare in non air-conditioned homes so often it was replaced by cold ham or seafood. The lovely warming desserts of Plum Pudding and Custard began to be replaced with a more refreshing ice cream plum pudding or Pavlova dessert, too.
Today air-conditioning has become the norm and many families are returning to a cooked lunch or dinner for their Christmas fare. But the melting pot of cultures and an historical experimentation with foods more suited to a hot climate have led to an incredible diversity on the Australian Christmas dinner table. Whatever you choose to serve on Christmas Day will be greatly enjoyed by your guests.
In the Australia of the 1970's it was Father Christmas who brought the gifts. Now, due to the influence of television, gifts are more often brought by Santa Claus! Gift giving traditions vary from family to family. The little red stocking is less usual in Australia - and it rarely includes adults. One common gift tradition in Australia does include a printed pillow case that is filled by Father Christmas. This is referred to as a "stocking".
Harking back to a strong British heritage, Australians also tend to have Christmas Crackers. The jokes enclosed are always awful and it is imperative that everyone wear the little paper crown found inside the cracker!
Over the years proud Australian alternatives to standard Christmas Cards and Christmas Carols have been developed. Cards depicting Santa in a pair of fluffy red and white shorts turning a "snag on the barbie", and Christmas Carols singing about the "six white Boomers" who pull Santa's sleigh, or the family who will "deck the shed", have been fondly received.
We do not have warmly dressed Carolers, who go door to door singing their tunes, but we do have a tradition of Carols by Candlelight; large gatherings usually located in a park, where the community gathers to sing carols together by candle or torch light.
No ice skating or snowball fights - but plenty of beach cricket and parties around the swimming pool!
Christmas in Australia is an overwhelmingly warm experience. The weather is warm and the people are warm and friendly. The only thing that most definitely is not warm is the beer!