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Christmas in Australia beginning of the summer holidays

In Australia, Christmas comes in the towards the beginning of the summer holidays! Children have their summer holidays from mid December to early February, so some people might even be camping at Christmas.
Because it’s so hot at Christmas time in Australia, there are quite often massive bush fires across the country. Many volunteer bush fire fighters are involved in saving people and property and travel from all over Australia to help in other states.
Australians hang wreaths on their front doors and sometimes go out Christmas carol singing on Christmas eve. People also decorate their houses and gardens with Christmas Trees and Christmas lights. Neighbors sometimes have little competitions to see who has got the best light display. The neighbors often visit each other to look at the light displays at night. Sometimes the displays are put out as early as December 1st. One street in Sydney raises over $(AUS)35,000 every year for charity with their co-ordinated street display!
Australians also decorate their houses with bunches of ‹Christmas Bush›, a native Australian tree with small green leaves and cream colored flowers. In summer the flowers turn a deep shiny red over a period of weeks (generally by the week of Christmas in Sydney).
In each State capital city there is a large Carols by Candlelight service. Famous Australian singers like The Wiggles, John Farnham, Anthony Warlow, Colin Gery, Niki Webster and many more help to sing the carols. These carol services, held in different cities, are broadcast on TV across Australia. There are also huge Christmas pageants in each state capital city, that are also broadcast across the country. Most towns and cities have festivals and parades. In some places, there is a fireworks display at the local park.
Many towns, cities and schools also hold their own Carols by Candlelight services, with local bands and choirs sometimes helping to perform the Christmas Carols and songs. As it is the middle of Summer in Australia at Christmas time, the words to the Carols about snow and the cold winter are sometimes changed to special Australian words! There are also some original Australian Carols.
When he gets to Australia, Santa gives the reindeer a rest and uses kangaroos or ‘six white boomers’ (a popular Australian Christmas song!). He also changes his clothes for less ‘hot’ ones!
On Boxing Day most people go and visit their friends and often have barbecues at the beach. A famous Yacht race from Sydney to Hobart in Tasmania is also held on Boxing Day.
The Flying Doctor Service has to work all though-out Christmas. On Christmas Day the people who live in the outback send Christmas greetings to each other over the radio network.
Most families try to be home together for Christmas and the main meal is normally eaten at lunch time. Most people now have a cold Christmas dinner, or a barbecue with seafood such as prawns and lobsters along with the ‹traditional english› food. On Christmas Eve, fish-markets are often full of people queuing to buy their fresh seafood for Christmas day.
Australians often have Christmas Crackers at Christmas meal times.
Christmas season celebrations in Australia
Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world on 25 December. Protestant and Roman Catholic churches hold Christmas Day services on 25 December. The Eastern churches – the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Russian Orthodox church and the Armenian church – celebrate Christmas on 6 or 7 January. There have been rituals, parties and celebrations at this time of year for thousands of years.
The birth of Jesus
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is ‘the son of God’, the Messiah sent from Heaven to save the world.
The ‘Christmas story’ tells of the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem, the angels announcing the birth to the shepherds in the fields, and the Magi (wise men from the East) visiting the stable and offering gifts to the newborn child.
The origins of Christmas
A Roman almanac confirms that 25 December was used to celebrate Christmas in 336 AD, although it was nearly 600 years later that the churches created a liturgy – a service for public worship – for the occasion.
The choice of date is believed to have been influenced by the northern hemisphere winter solstice, as well as ancient pagan rituals that coincided with the solstice. These rituals included the Halcyon Days in Greece, a period of calm and goodwill when it was believed the sea was calm for birds to lay their eggs; and the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, a celebration of the god Saturn, which involved wild parties, the exchange of gifts and the temporary suspension of social divisions between slaves and masters.
Christmas traditions and symbols
A photograph of Santa arriving at the beach by boat.
A photo of Santa arriving at the beach by boat. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: A1500, K26950.
Christmas trees are part of a long tradition of greenery being taken into the home at Christmas to brighten the dreary winter. Mistletoe was popular with Druid priests because it remained green throughout winter. Holly placed over the doorway was believed to drive away evil. Placing branches from trees in the home was first recorded in 1494, and by the beginning of the 1600s there are records of fir trees being decorated with apples.
The story of Santa Claus has its origins in the legends surrounding the humble generosity of Saint Nicholas, whose feast day is celebrated on 6th December. Saint Nicholas was a 4th century Christian Bishop from Myra (in modern-day Turkey) who became the Patron Saint of Children. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed up as bishops begging alms for the poor. Later, the Christ child ‘Christkindlein’ was said to have accompanied Nicholas-like figures on their travels. The 1822 poem ‘Twas the Night before Christmas forged the link and Saint Nicholas (Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Christ Kind, Kriss Kringle or Sinter Klass) became known as Santa Claus.
Christmas in the southern hemisphere
The heat of early summer in Australia has an impact on the way that Australians celebrate Christmas and on which northern hemisphere Christmas traditions are followed.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas houses are decorated; greetings cards sent out; carols sung; Christmas trees installed in homes, schools and public places; and children delight in anticipating a visit from Santa Claus. On Christmas Day family and friends gather to exchange gifts and enjoy special Christmas food.
Many Australians spend Christmas out of doors, going to the beach for the day, or heading to camping grounds for a longer break over the Christmas holiday period. It has become traditional for international visitors who are in Sydney at Christmas time to go to Bondi Beach where up to 40,000 people visit on Christmas Day.
Carols and music
A photograph of Christmas tree in Martin Place, Sydney 2005.
Christmas tree in Martin Place, Sydney 2005. File photograph. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.
The tradition of an Australian Christmas Eve carol service lit by candles was started in 1937 by radio announcer Norman Banks. This outdoor service has now been held in Melbourne every year since then.
Carols by Candlelight events today range from huge gatherings, which are televised live throughout the country, to smaller local community and church events. Sydney’s Carols in the Domain has become a popular platform for the stars of stage and music.
Some uniquely Australian Christmas carols have become popular and are included alongside the more traditional carols sung at carol services and at Christmas church services: John Wheeler’s The Three Drovers is perhaps the best known of these.
Many light-hearted Australian Christmas songs have become an essential part of the Australian Christmas experience. These include Rolf Harris’s Six White Boomers, Colin Buchanan’s Aussie Jingle Bells and the Australian Twelve Days of Christmas.

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