Christmas is a joyous festival celebrated worldwide. Australian Christmas customs and traditions are derived from Irish and British cultures.Read on to know about Christmas celebrations in Australia.

Christmas In Australia

Australia is a country with amultiplicity of cultures. Christmas customs in Australia are derived from English and Irish Christmas practices. People in Australia take their Christmas holidays very seriously. Professionals close down their offices, the children are given a six week vacation and public transport systems are closed. The 'Carols By Candlelight' is an important Australian tradition wherein a large crowd of people get together at night and sing Christmas carols together. The 'Christmas Bush', which is a native plant of Australia, is used for decorating the homes during Christmas instead of the conventional fir/pine tree. The special feature of the celebrations in Australia is that several outdoor recreational activities are performed unlike most countries, as Australia experiences warm/hot climate during Christmas.Australian families follow different customs when it comes to Christmas dinner celebrations. Santa Claus is believed to be the gift-bringer for children. Find out more about the Christmas traditions, customs and celebrations in Australia.

Customs, Traditions & Celebrations
Apart from having unique traditions of their own, Australia does incorporateEnglish and Irish Christmas customs. Christmas Day is celebrated on the 25th of December. However, the Australian festivities and the holiday season commence late November. Children get a 6-week break from school and most professionals are on leave from Christmas Eve to Australia Day Public holiday, which is on the 26th of January.Shops and businesses also close down on Christmas and on 'Boxing Day'. Most public transport systems are closed for the holidays and others,offer onlya few services.During the Christmas season, plays representing the 'Nativity Scene' are shown in the churches and schools. The occasion that highlights the best of the Christmas season in Australia, is the popular event called 'Carols By Candlelight', which is held a few days before Christmas. Thousands of people in Australia gather at night to light candles and sing their favourite carols in unison. Apart from being a very sacred custom, this event sets the tone for the remainder of the holiday season.

Christmas Decorations
Australian families adorn their houses with palm leaves, ferns, tinsel, glass baubles, colorful flowers like bellflowers and alsodecorate trees with fake snow made out of cotton, since there is no snow. Some people hang Christmas lights outside their homes and yards. The 'Christmas Bush' is a native Australian tree that is used for decorating the houses and is lit with string lights and adorned with ornaments.

Activities During Christmas Season
The Australians carry out their shopping errands for buying Christmas gifts for their friends and families. They also send Christmas cards to their relatives and friends. Children in Australia write letters to Santa Claus, with a list of their favorite gifts.During Christmas, the country faces the hottest months of the year. For this reason, Australians perform outdoor activities like swimming, surfing, sailing, and riding bicycles rather than staying back at home and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate. Families go on picnics and grill their food outdoors on a barbecue.

Christmas Eve Traditions
On the Eve of Christmas, Australian families attend Masses at church together. According to Irish traditions, a parent, generally the father, places a candle on the windowsill as a gesture to welcome Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus into the house. The youngest child will then light the candle. It is customary for Australians to attend the 'Midnight Mass' at the church and the Christmas festivitiescontinue after the Mass.

Australian Santa Claus
Children expect to receive gifts from Santa Claus during Christmas. They hang stockings and even pillow cases, in the hope that these would be filled with treats by Santa Claus the next morning.They also leave a glass of milk and some carrots for the reindeers. The children in Australia are told that Santa Claus would slide down the chimney and leave gifts for good children. He is believed to ride a miniature sleigh that is pulled by reindeers.

Feast On Christmas Day
As per Australian traditions, on Christmas morning, families open presents and proceed to have their breakfast of eggs and ham. After this they go to church to attend Mass. A large feast is prepared and shared among all the family members on Christmas Day. Most families prepare a traditional British dinner with roast turkey and plum pudding. There are families who grill their Christmas dinners as well. Some families take a trip to the countryside or beach for a cold turkey meal and salad. One of the customs includes, baking a pudding with a small coin hidden inside and this pudding is soaked in alcohol, which is ignited when served. The person who finds the coin is expected to have a lucky year ahead. Christmas crackers are popular sweets served during the feast. The specialty of this sweet is that these are opened with a crack when their wrappers are pulled off.

Christmas is an exciting time for the Australians. Owing to its hot climate during December, Australians spend their holidays visiting beaches, going on trips, and performing various outdoor activities. Australians follow different Christmas traditions and customs because of their diverse cultures. The 'Carol By Candlelight' is an important event performed during Christmas and should not be missed when in Australia, during Christmas.