- The traditional ugly Christmas sweaters are rendered uniquely Australian with ugly Xmas rashies. Also called rash shirts, they offer protection from the sun and come in Christmas patterns with kangaroos, koalas, or cockatoos. The sale of these shirts raises money for Cancer Council Queensland's research, along with awareness about the high rates of skin cancer in Australia. Ugly Xmas rashies will be my go-to Christmas gift next year, much to the dismay of my husband, daughter, and the rest of our family back in the States.
- Australians have written their own Christmas songs that leave all the snow behind. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard "Aussie Jingle Bells" by Bucko and Champs or "The 12 New Days of an Australian Christmas." Check out the rest of the top ten Australian Christmas songs.
- Santa leaves the department store to head straight for the beach. Surfers dressed like Santa are a big deal this time of year. And his sleigh? Pulled by six white kangaroos, or boomers, of course.
- Christmas dinner becomes Christmas lunch, and seafood is often the main course. On Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning, family members go to the local seafood market to do “a prawn run.” Other favorites are cold ham or other cold dishes. Pavlova—a soft meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit—is a must for dessert. Fresh cherries and mangoes also make an appearance. And forget eating inside—a beach barbecue or park picnic with family and friends is far more likely.
- And after dinner? No napping on the sofa or walking in the snow here. It’s down to the water or out to an impromptu street party instead.
Celebrating Christmas at the hottest time of the year takes a little mental adjustment. Australians parted ways with some of the snowy, cold-weather traditions of the Northern Hemisphere to make the holiday undeniably their own. Here are five ways Australian Christmases differ from ones in the United States.
Australians really know how to make the most of the delightful weather this time of year. Happy holidays, everyone.
Rose Ciccarelli is an American writer and editor living in Canberra, Australia.