Christmas in Australia: 9 Popular Traditions Down Under

If you’re new to Australia and wondering what Christmas is like in your new homeland, you’ve come to the right place.

When you think of Christmas, you most likely associate it with delicate soft snow and hot chocolate by the fire while it’s freezing outside.

Christmas in Australia, though, couldn’t be more different. Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about Christmas in the land down under.

Christmas in Australia - city view

When Does Christmas Begin in Australia?

In Australia, Christmas preparations start in November and go into full swing in December, when the days are filled with sun, warmth, and lots of time on the beach.

Barbecues are popular among Australians and in some instances may replace a traditional roast lunch or dinner.

Christmas Day takes place on December 25, which is in the middle of the country’s summer vacation. The festivities don’t stop until the end of the month, as Australians value their loved ones and will find any excuse to celebrate with them.

Who Celebrates Christmas in Australia?

Australia is a highly diverse country, comprising more than 100 merging religions. Christianity is the most prominent one, currently observed by 51% of its citizens.

It was British and Irish immigrants who played a large role in the development of churches, as well as schools and orphanages in the early 19th century.

Since the 1970s, there has been a steady increase of religions not associated with Christianity, and many Australians nowadays do not consider themselves to be religious at all.

When it comes to Christmas traditions, it’s common to find those who don’t identify as Christians still joining in the hype and celebration.

9 Popular Australian Christmas Traditions

1. Sing along with carols by candlelight.

A popular tradition in Australia is Carols by Candlelight, which occurs annually on Christmas Eve.

This joyful event brings together people of all ages to unite outside, preferably in a park. They sing along to carols performed by singers and/or an orchestra, all while holding candles—hence ‘candlelight.’

Donations from funds gathered from tickets, donations, and candle sales go to Vision Australia, an organization dedicated to people with blindness and low vision.

2. Enjoy Christmas parties and celebrations.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas (and even the days following Christmas Day), it’s typical for many parties and celebrations to take place.

Christmas gatherings of all sorts, including work parties and personal celebrations, are increasingly popular. Guests are expected to bring a plate of food and/or drinks as a common custom.

It’s very normal for Australians to complain of gaining weight during Christmas time because of the immense increase in food intake and alcohol! Australian people will also take this opportunity to exchange gifts and Christmas cards.

3. Attend church.

On Christmas Eve, many Australian families attend church to pray and sing carols. There are many events, readings, plays, and ceremonies that take place in Christian and Catholic churches in the days leading up to Christmas.

4. Santa is coming to town!

The 25th day of December and the official day of Christmas in Australia is the day that Santa Claus visits children around the country.

Australian families leave out cookies the night before for Santa as a thank you for delivering their presents and filling their stockings with all kinds of surprises.

5. Celebrate Boxing Day, too.

Boxing Day takes place on the 26th of December and has British origins. In Australia, it is a public holiday and a day when many events take place.

One of the biggest events is the Boxing Day test match; a largely significant cricket match that takes place on the Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

Another important event is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race which is broadcast on TV stations across the country and attracts more viewers than any other yacht race in the world.

For those who love a bargain, the Boxing Day shopping sales begin this day and include excess items being sold at heavily reduced prices.

Christmas in Australia - beach

6. Party at Bondi Beach.

Thousands of people flock to Bondi Beach in Sydney in costumes each year to celebrate Christmas. Many people wear Santa hats and celebrate the day with plenty of food, sport, and surfing.

Christmas trees are set up along the beach to help set the mood for a festive day and the most wonderful time of year!

7. Play a game of cricket.

A game of cricket isn’t just played in a match by professionals. Many Australian families also enjoy playing it against their friends and family members.

Australians will play the game before, after, and/or while the main meal course is being prepared.

8. Decorate your house.

Decorations play a huge part in celebrating the joy and excitement of the Christmas season.

A Christmas tree, either real or artificial, is set up in the home and decorated with ornaments, candy canes, and tinsel.

It’s common for presents to be placed under the tree in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In addition, Australians love to place decorations in various areas and spots around the house.

Christmas stockings are extremely common, often reserved for children, and often filled with sweet treats and smaller gifts.

For the outside of the home, it’s the norm to hang a garland on the door. A lot of Australians enjoy decorating the front porch and garden with colorful lights and inflatables.

Malls, restaurants, hotels, and venues of all kinds get into the swing of Christmas by decorating weeks, sometimes even months, in advance.

9. Enjoy your feast outside.

Food and drink play a very significant part in Australian Christmas festivities.

For lunch, apart from the traditional roast chicken or turkey, it’s common to have a BBQ consisting of freshly caught seafood (especially prawns) or meat, with a salad as the side. For drinks, beer is a popular choice among men, while women typically opt for wine and champagne.

Since the weather is so good this time of the year, Australians like to sit outside in the warm sun while enjoying lunch with their loved ones.

Spending hours in the kitchen making gingerbread men and other baked goods is a common practice during the Christmas period and enjoyed wholeheartedly by the entire family.

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