Many Irish people who contemplate a move down under hit the same mental stumbling block: Christmas. How do you celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere when it is summer time? When all of your beloved Christmas traditions are geared to cold weather, would it still feel festive? Are Christmas lights as magical when it isn’t dark at 5:00 pm? Could you trade a cosy fireside for a barbeque on the beach? You’d swelter in a Christmas jumper in Sydney or Perth in December. Christmas is a very emotional time for many people, and it is a time when many living far from home are struck with intense homesickness. On the other hand, it’s a chance to escape the holiday traditions you don’t like and create new ones in their place.
Christmas in Australia does have many of the same traditions enjoyed throughout the northern hemisphere. People send cards and sing carols. Families decorate trees inside and hang lights and other decorations outside. Shops are full of toys, and people exchange gifts. Santa comes bringing toys and sweets to good little boys and girls. People attend church services or don’t, with perhaps less pressure to be seen at church than some would feel in Ireland.
Embrace These Australian Christmas Traditions
Christmas down under does have its own traditions. Remember, it’s quite hot. No one really wants a big roast dinner, and baking doesn’t have a lot of appeal. Instead, seafood is a popular Christmas dinner. You can swap the Christmas pudding and mince pies for a pavlova loaded with fresh fruit. After dinner, you can join everyone else lounging at the beach instead of lolling in front of the fire. The odds of waking up to snowy Christmas morning are close to zero, so you’ll have to give up the hope of making a snowman. But you can try your hand at making a sandman instead.
In Ireland, the overwhelming majority of the population celebrates Christmas. Australia’s population is more diverse. You’ll meet more people of other faiths who do not celebrate Christmas. The Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the Jewish festival Hanukkah happen near Christmas. Australia does not shut down for Christmas to the extent that Ireland does.
Your first Christmas in Australia might be a time of intense homesickness. The best way to get through it is to surround yourself with your new friends. Let them know you’re a bit down, and accept their invitations to join in their celebrations. The more you throw yourself into the new, the less you will miss the old.
If you are missing a traditional Irish Christmas while in Australia, you can console yourself with the fact that more and more Australians are celebrating Christmas twice a year. Because their seasons are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, the idea of Christmas in July has caught on. It’s a better time of year to enjoy a roast dinner, and so far, it’s mostly a great excuse for a party. You don’t have to go shopping for presents – just enjoy an extra dose of seasonal festivities when the temperature drops to where it is safe to wear a Christmas jumper.