If you’re heading Down Under for Christmas this year, you should ready yourself for a few culture shocks and differences which may be a jolt to the system. From the temperature of the climate to the temperature of the food, it probably won’t be like anything else you’ve ever experienced at Christmas before. Here, we’ll go through a few of the changes you’ll experience and also a few things which might seem a little more familiar as you prepare for Christmas Down Under.
The Weather: Temperatures in Australia are expected to reach 24 degrees in certain regions on Christmas Day. Some areas, particularly in the North and inland, could hit the forties. This is a blistering difference from the negative numbers that many migrants from the Northern Hemisphere will experience and you should be prepared to shed layers instead of putting them on. One huge negative of this which rears its head annually is the threat of dangerous bushfires due to the dry, arid terrain mixed with the searing heat. Australia is a country with constant vulnerability to problems caused by intense heat and drought.
The food: Whilst in many homes, the textbook turkey with all the trimmings is still the meal of choice on Christmas Day, many Aussies will head down the beach for a barbecue. Seafood and cold meats are also a prevalent option for millions of people on the big day. In addition, for their dessert, many Aussies favour a flaming plum pudding instead of the traditional Christmas pudding shared in places like the UK. The tendency to over-indulge is the same at both sides of the world, but what you’re eating might not be what you’re used to at this time of year.
Sport: With the weather back home not exactly being conducive to sporting participation, many sports take a break for the Christmas period. For Australia, the festive time is a hotbed of sporting activity. Traditions such as the Boxing Day test match cricket and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race dominate the thoughts of many, and games such as backyard footy and cricket are commonplace in the local communities.
What are the similarities with the UK?
Christmas cards and gifts: More than 100 million Christmas cards are sent and received across Australia over Christmas, and retailers report huge increases in sales and profits. The spirit of gift giving is just as prevalent in Australia as it is in the UK, as is the charitable feeling around the holidays. Donations to worthy causes and the number of registered volunteers increase massively over the period.
‘The meaning of Christmas’: Australia is a predominantly Christian country, and as a result many people use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Church attendances go up and swathes of the population attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, in addition to carol services. The annual Carols by Candlelight services date back to 1938 and are a favourite for many Australians.
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