From backyard cricket to lunches by the beach, Christmas in Australia is undoubtedly special and has its own unique flavour.
For anyone who’s spent the silly season in the northern hemisphere, it’s clear we do things differently here. With the lack of snow and a quirky take on the holiday, it’s more likely you’ll see Santa surfing than a group of carolers wandering the neighbourhood.
While no two Christmas tables look exactly the same in this country, a pretty typical Aussie Christmas is sure to have at least a few of these things.
1. Surfing Santa
Traditional Santas wear bright red fleecy suits, lined with white fur and big black boots to fight off the northern winter.
In Australia, it’s summer at Christmas time so you’re much more likely to see a boardshort-wearing Santa on a surfboard.
So where will you see a surfing Santa? 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 in a Santa hat.
Surf’s up, Santa. Picture: Getty
2. Eating prawns
While our British and American friends are feasting on roast turkey, baked potato and hot chocolate, us 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.
Where to find the best prawns
Head down to your local markets to buy the freshest and biggest prawns for Christmas day.
Most seafood stores will be packed on Christmas morning with grumpy parents or bored teenagers who have been sent on the prawn run. It’s such a special time of year.
Prawns are a popular item on any Australian Christmas lunch menu. Picture: Getty
How to cook prawns on the barbecue:
Whether you’re a fan of Crocodile Dundee or not, there’s no getting around the fact prawns on the barbecue is a great Aussie tradition. Here’s how to do it.
- Wash prawns in cold water and split the back gently with a knife. Remove the black intestinal tract.
- Coat prawns gently in oil and place onto a hot barbeque.
- Turn once and cook through until the shell has turned a pinkish red.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
3. Street parties
It’s 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 families and kids.
Quiet roads on Christmas Day also usually mean impromptu games of cricket, with the wheelie bin as stumps of course.
Read more: Games to play at home on Christmas afternoon.
4. Boxing Day barbecues
Boxing day, the day after Christmas, is traditionally another day of celebration with family. It’s another public holiday for most Australians so it’s a great time to relax, soak up the festivities and, perhaps after a little too much indulgence the day before, start on the post-Christmas diet.
Once the family gatherings are over, people usually catch up at friends’ houses on Boxing Day to watch (or not watch) the Boxing Day Test. This usually involves one group of people drinking beer with their eyes glued to the cricket and another group of people drinking beer and not watching the cricket.
The tradition of the Boxing Day Test is to either organise your entire day around the match, or completely ignore it.
The same goes for Boxing Day sales and battling the crowds to squeeze in just that little bit more shopping before the New Year.
Boxing Day is great for a bit of backyard cricket. Picture: Getty
5. Festive road trips
Depending on where your family lives, 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 with the kids jammed together in the back seat.
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.
Whether you’re visiting loved-ones that live far away or you’re solidly on vacation-mode and heading up some of Australia’s favourite road trips, it’s inevitable everyone in the family will be re-aquainted with each other after this!
Australia’s favourite road trips
Hitting the road around the silly season is a great way to unwind. Here are some of Australia’s best road trip destinations.
- The Great Ocean Road, VIC
- The Grand Pacific Drive, NSW
- Flinders Ranges, SA
- Great Barrier Reef Drive, QLD
Driving is still one of the best ways to see Australia. Picture: Tim Patch
6. Carols by candlelight
Most cities in Australia host their own Carols by Candlelight and there will usually be a few celebrity performers. Proceeds from the performance are usually donated to a 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 and mosquito spray and spend the evening outdoors listening to music.
Sydney: Carols in the Domain, Saturday 21 December 2019.
Melbourne: Carols By Candlelight, Tuesday 24 December 2019.
Brisbane: Carols By Twilight, December 20 – December 23, 2019
7. Christmas lunch
If we believe everything we see on television, it would appear that most Christmas meals happen at dinner time. Not in Australia – 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, and time spent playing fun Christmas games for kids and big kids.
Christmas lunches in Australia are relaxed, mostly casual affairs which can include breaks for a spot of cricket or a splash in the backyard pool.
Christmas crackers are a must – as is the need to wear of colourful paper crowns and telling of bad-jokes from the goodies found within.
Christmas lunch and for some Christmas dinner. Picture: Getty
Hopefully, the table is heaving with too much food from everyone who’s brought a plate and mostly you’ll be full from the cheese and dips served pre-lunch but you’ll continue to eat regardless.
Many Aussies partake in a roast of some description, whether it’s cold ham and salads, traditional chook with all the trimmings, or (if you’re lucky) delights from all the multicultural regions of the world that Australians come from.
While it’s hard to define what exactly is the typical Aussie lunch on Christmas day you can bet it’ll be a mishmash of everyone’s favourite traditional dishes, whatever that means these days!