As if Christmas in a new country wasn’t challenging enough, being in Australia adds a whole new hurdle: Christmas is in summer because countries in the Southern hemisphere have opposite seasons during the “Ber” months. With the heat and the sunshine, there’s a lot of things you’ll do differently than if you were having Christmas in the Philippines.
Here are some Australian Christmas traditions you might want to try. Trade sweaters for swimsuits and dive into the fun:
View the Myer Christmas window display in Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne
If you are based in Melbourne, you may already be familiar with the two retail giants along Bourke Street: Myer and David Jones.
Myer uses whimsical designs and robotics to create world-famous imaginative Christmas window displays. Visiting the Christmas windows of Myer is a Melburnian family tradition dating back to the 1960s. Some of the memorable themes in the past decades were: “Santa and the Olympics, “Twelve Days of Christmas”, and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Every year has a different theme, which keeps families in suspense before their annual visit. In 2021, Beatrix Potter’s “The Tales of Peter Rabbit” is the display theme.
Your children can also meet and greet Santa Claus at Myer and have their photo taken. This year, bookings are essential. Be advised that Covid-safe protocols are in place.
Spend Christmas at your local beach with other Australians
Swap a white Christmas indoors for white beaches, sun and sand angels. Aussies love going to the beach and Christmas day is no exception.
Pack a cooler box filled with drinks and food and enjoy your Christmas day on the beach, alternatively get up for an early morning or sunset swim.
Many of the usual Australian Christmas traditions apply here too. You can find the locals having a swim or a barbecue while dressed up in their Santa hats and reindeer antlers. Some even brave the heat in full Santa Claus outfits.
Barbecues: The Australian Christmas food of choice?
Many people want to know what it is that Aussies eat for Christmas. Well, if there’s one thing that Aussies are obsessed with, it’s barbecues (“barbie” for short). If you’re unfamiliar with Australian slang, don’t fret! We have an Aussie slang guide perfect for beginners.
Australians go crazy for anything that you can throw on a barbecue, especially burgers and snags. Snags are essentially sausages that you eat with caramelized onions and white bread. Snags may appear to look like regular sausage sandwiches, but locals usually associate them with good memories.
Australians love seafood and prawns or shrimp on the barbecue are not uncommon to find, especially around Christmas time. All kinds of different seafood can be found around Christmas time – look out for oysters as well as crayfish.
Naturally, Christmas involves good times, good memories, and good food. The summertime weather is perfect for barbecues to the point that they have become a staple in Christmas culture for Australians.
Australians watch the Carols by Candlelight event on Christmas Eve
Carols by Candlelight is a wonderful event that supports a good cause. The event is held at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, wherein thousands of families gather to listen to their favourite Christmas carols. It has become a Christmas tradition for many Aussie families to attend or at least watch the telecast version.
Since Christmas is a time for giving, viewers then donate to Vision Australia to help children with vision impairment issues. You can get tickets and/or donate at Vision Australia’s website. If you wish to watch from the comfort of your own home, you can tune to Channel 9 at 8 PM.
Australians continue the English tradition of Christmas crackers.
Christmas crackers date back to the 1840s where English sweets maker Tom Smith thought it would be exciting for children to open treats with a bang. Christmas crackers, which are basically party poppers with sweets or jokes wrapped in colorful paper, adorn table arrangements. Some also contain small paper hats or crowns, which are believed to be the crowns of the Wise Men. A cracker is usually placed on a plate and makes a good icebreaker for Christmas parties. They are opened before your Christmas meals.
It is usually said that whoever remains with the larger portion of the Christmas cracker gets the contents. However, these crackers are usually pulled as a fun game where the contents of the cracker on your plate are yours. If you pull the larger portion, you will still get bragging rights and a good laugh.
Australians love spending Christmas with family and friends
Christmas time, no matter which country you’re in, is synonymous with spending time with your loved ones. In the Philippines, it is customary to celebrate Noche Buena on Christmas Eve, which is rooted to the Spanish term meaning “Good Night”.
In Australia, Christmas is usually celebrated on the day, either during lunch or at dinner time. Typical choices for food are roasts turkey, ham or chicken, eggnog or custard, and some warm sides. (And sometimes oysters, believe it or not!). These meals are shared with and sometimes close friends and the celebrations last for hours.
You can also use our Filipino recipe guide if you are feeling a bit homesick this Christmas and want a taste of home. Better yet, you can cook some traditional Filipino dishes for Australians you will see on Christmas day for a bit of a dish exchange. Maybe just refrain from the “O, kain pa”. Your Australian hosts may not be used to eating as much as a Filipino.
The Christmas period can be difficult if you are away from loved ones. Getting Christmas gifts and any financial aid to them can be a complicated process. We can help you send money to family members in the Philippines to make their Christmas more special.