Learning to Love Our Australian Christmas


I’ve written a lot about Christmas Down Under, over the years I’ve lived here. It seems like there is no more universally difficult time for transplants from the Northern Hemisphere to be in Australia. I’ve felt the sting of lost traditions, reversed seasons, and missing family. I’ve struggled with what to do and how to feel merry during Australian Christmas for 7 years in a row, minus one blissful Christmas that Hushpuppy and I spent back home.

For some reason, this year is different. I’ve found myself downright festive, and I’m not even dreaming of a white Christmas (not that we ever had one of those in Georgia). The formula, I think, has been a big helping of a very enthusiastic 4 year old, a splash of having friends in town to celebrate with this year, and a big helping of just getting used to a summer Christmas. We also had a massive trip to visit both sides of the family just recently, so my interest in hopping a long-haul flight with two small children is at an all-time low.

While I may never shake the image of a Courier and Ives Christmas, I thought I’d share a few of the lovely, Australian things that, for the first time, feel like Christmas to me:

Carols in the Park

What I Love About Australian Christmas

Carols in the Park may be the loveliest of all Australian Christmas traditions. You pack a picnic and a blanket for an evening on the green listening to live Christmas carols. Because it’s summer, it’s bound to be a beautiful, family-friendly evening. Our first year here, friends introduced us to the massive Carols in the Domain event, where the year’s reality stars, a few singers just a little past their peak stardom, and The Wiggles sing carols to thousands in Sydney CBD’s largest open space, as it’s broadcast on TV. I’d never experienced anything like it. Closer to home, you can find local carols in the park concerts of various sizes every weekend in the lead up to the big day. Attending our local carols has become a beloved tradition for our family.

Santa in Unusual Places

What I Love About Australian Christmas

Oh, certainly, you’ll find your Santa for photos in every shopping mall, but he also pops up in some unexpected places. Like the beach. Or, next to Luna Park on Sydney Harbour. It makes for a pretty eye-catching Christmas card.

Australian Versions of Christmas Songs 

What I Love About Australian Christmas

So many traditional Christmas songs just make little sense for an Australian holiday, and leave it to the cheeky Aussies to twist them around into something funny and right on the mark for a True Blue summer celebration. There’s “Aussie Jingle Bells” (“Dashing through the bush in a rusty Holden ute…), “We Wish You a Ripper Christmas” (“A dead set ripper Christmas”), and “Deck the Shed With Bits of Wattle” (“Wack some gum leaves in a bottle…”), among others. They’re really a lot of fun, with the only-in-Australia humor.


CherriesWhat I Love About Australian Christmas

In the Northern Hemisphere, chestnuts and cranberries reign supreme, but down here, cherries are coming into season, just as we approach Christmas. They’re so pretty, and the season is so short, that they feel like a real decadence. Chestnuts or cherries? I know which I’d rather have!

So Much Bubbly

What I Love About Australian Christmas

It’s hot outside, and of course, no Australian party would be complete without a festive drink. So, it’s break out the cold bubbly  for a holiday toast at every party. Last year, when I was pregnant, the only time I missed drinking was during the holidays when those flutes of chilled bevvies looked so inviting. White wine and Christmas are so synonymous that Tim Minchin’s Christmas song is called “Drinking White Wine in the Sun.” Make mine sparkling, please!

Merry Christmas, everyone! May your days be merry, and bright. And, may you get to sit in the sun this Christmas Day.

5 thoughts on “Learning to Love Our Australian Christmas

  1. Rachel

    This is a great perspective to read; as a new expat I’m finding this whole hot Christmas thing utterly bizarre. I am glad you’re acclimatising to it, that gives me hope! I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to rethink some traditions that maybe don’t work for us anymore – as long as we get to church, everything else will be icing on the cake (literally as well as figuratively, I hope).

    1. Cristin Post author

      It’s a really hard adjustment, but you’re so right that it makes you really take a look at what makes the holiday special to you and your family. Hope you you have a good one!

  2. Jennifer Herb

    I have loved following your Christmas activities on Insta this year! Looks like you guys are having a blast! And yes, Hushpuppy’s enthusiasm does make every little thing seem so much bigger. We definitely miss that. Everythng is fun and exciting with that sweet little curly firecracker. While we were in Sydney, I felt like Vivid Fest made up for a hot Christmas. It was all the chilly beauty of Christmas without the wrapping and road trips. Sheer perfection.

    1. Cristin Post author

      Ha! That’s sort of true – the Vivid Festival may just be “the most wonderful time of the year” in Sydney! We miss you all.

  3. Cosette Paneque

    I”m on board with this. I’m originally from South Florida so I’ve always experienced warm or mild winters. It’s not that Christmas happens during the summer that bothers me, but I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on why it doesn’t feel festive to me. Maybe it’s because it’s a long break and so many people go away. Melbourne is very quiet from Christmas through January and even early February. I definitely get homesick and have no traditions here. This year did feel a little bit different though and I enjoyed this Christmas more than any other. My partner and I talked about creating new traditions moving forward. Maybe the tide is shifting a little.

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