I’d like to start by saying that I think there is NO typical Christmas in Australia. Sure it’s hot, and many Australian families have that in common at this time of year, but even the weather isn’t certain, depending on where you live.
I know that when Simon and I moved to London the first time, we encountered many misconceptions that our Northern Hemisphere friends had about Christmas celebrations in Australia. For example, most assumed that because it was hot here in December, that surely Christmas would be celebrated on the beach. And that the meal we shared with our family, must of course be shrimp (or as we say, prawns) on the barbeque. I can honestly say that I have never eaten Christmas lunch at the beach, and prawns cooked on the barbeque have only recently started to make an appearance at the table. In fact, until last year, I had never even been to the beach on Christmas day before. But maybe that has been just my experience, which is exactly the point of this post.
Australia is a very multicultural country, and every family has bought its own traditions to Christmas celebrations. My own family is made up of Italian immigrants on one side, and English immigrants on the other. So, a typical Christmas for me when growing up was a huge Italian affair with many Aunts, Uncles, cousins and extended family all coming together to share lasagna, Cotoletta (Italian Schnitzel), salads, and Zippoli, all washed down with lots of home-made red wine. It was noisy and informal, but lots of fun. In contrast though, Christmas with my mother’s family was much quieter. We enjoyed a sit-down meal of a traditional English hot roast turkey and a baked ham. followed by, Christmas pudding and jelly and custard trifle. My Grandmother and Mum enjoyed listening to traditional Christmas Carols, and I can remember them baking and preparing Christmas treats late into the night on Christmas eve, with music playing in the kitchen.
Because everyone in Australia, other than the traditional Indigenous Australians, has come from somewhere else, (whether recently or generations ago) if they celebrate Christmas at all, each family will do it in their own way. I think this is one of the things that makes Australia great! Gosh, the beaches would be very crowded if all twenty million of us headed down with the family, a barbeque, and an esky (ice box) full of prawns! Last year, the Australian supermarket chain Woolworths used the theme of a multicultural Australia in some fun Christmas advertisements.
Tomorrow Simon, me and the kids are looking forward to Christmas at my Sister’s house. The funny thing is that this year, for the first time, we are having a more stereotypical Australian Christmas. She lives by the beach, so after lunch we thought we’d take the kids down for a swim, and if that’s not Aussie enough, my brother-in-law is even going to “Chuck a few Prawns on the Barbie” 😉