Living on the underside of the world gives us Aussies a different perspective on Christmas and the festive season. Rather than conform to tradition, our family has taken the opportunity to set our own parameters for celebrating Christmas.
Here Christmas arrives in Summer and the weather is usually perfect. Friends return to be with family and there is often not a spare bed in the house over the holidays.
Sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms, sea breezes and balmy evenings make for perfect holiday conditions. With the golden sand and harbor less than a mile away, and an in-ground pool in the back yard and air conditioning, there is little excuse for overheating in the humid conditions. Each afternoon a sea breeze makes life pleasant if the day’s heat has been exhausting.
On the lead up to Christmas we decorate the house with lights and enjoy having the neighbors’ kids come and view our efforts. Santa often cruises the local streets, riding on the local Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade truck. Santa is always red faced and often attired in open sandals rather than big black boots.
Shopping is probably the same the world over.
So, Christmas day arrives. It can often be a scorching day, with temperatures over 30 deg C. Baking is not recommended in the heat. Even so there is way too much food, drink and conversation. Family, extended family and friends gather to celebrate. That’s pretty much what happens everywhere I guess.
We don’t go for the traditional baked dinner. Ample amounts of cold ham, turkey, chicken, seafood, salads, bacon and banana rolls, a new favorite: Peter Evan’s bbq spare ribs in rum and coke, ambrosia, avocado, fresh fruit and lots of cold drink are consumed during lunch. Desserts tend to extend into the afternoon between swims and relaxation. Family members bring their specialty dishes for both courses.
Unless it is cool, desserts are often not Christmas puddings or cake, but homemade pavlova, trifle, ice cream Christmas cake, homemade tiramisu. Again fresh fruit is popular. Mango, peach, nectarine, kiwi fruit, cherries and the ever popular strawberry all are bountiful at this time.
Christmas tends to mean beach, surf, sunburn, sunscreen and mosquito repellant. The sounds of cicadas, blowflies, rolling surf, thunderstorms, mosquitoes and guitars strumming while the kids sing are all part of the Christmas spirit. Although the smell of sunscreen and mossie coils burning are overpowered by the mouthwatering aroma of barbequed onions and marinated spare ribs.
Lying in a hammock, sipping a cold drink and listening to the drone of conversation, pleasantly cool from a swim and taking time out between meals… it doesn’t get better than this.
Remember to pace yourself because Boxing day is a huge picnic day.
Among friends here the tradition is to venture out on Boxing day into the heat and sunshine and play Cricket, emulating our national test team. My sons’ friends gather to remember one of the boy’s mother who passed away a few years ago. During their childhood she used to host a memorable cricket match. These days the event is still memorable. Everyone enjoys the picnic atmosphere while the brave manage to play some sort of a game while imbibing varying amounts of alcohol. Sunburn, hangover and muscle aches are guaranteed for players and on every occasion Cricket wins the day.
I guess that’s pretty much how our family celebrates Christmas downunder.
For those interested in the tastes:
Ambrosia; Sour cream mixed with marshmallows and mandarin segments. Sounds sweet? It is! Believe me. It is served as a salad though, rather than a dessert.
Bacon and Banana rolls; Wrap bacon around a cut banana and barbeque it till the bacon is cooked.
Christmas ice cream cake; In a large domed mixing bowl take 4litres/1gallon of vanilla ice cream, soften and mix in dried fruit mix and a dash of your favorite liqueur. Mix and re freeze. Serve dome side up. For kids you could leave out the alcohol.
Trifle; sponge cake soaked in jelly, sherry (or your choice of alcohol), set with fruit, covered in custard and cream.
Pavlova; A meringue base covered with cream and fresh fruit. Great for summer time.
Peter Evans’ Barbequed Spare Ribs in Rum and Coke… American style spare ribs marinated for two days in a mix of rum and coke and various sauces. Rum and Coke Ribs The only problem with these is not having enough.
Recipes for Ribs and Tiramisu are more complex. Follow the links here or visit my blog at