Given that 90 per cent of the world’s population live in the northern hemisphere where Christmas falls during winter, it’s not surprising that for so many people of the world, a summer Christmas is a mind-boggling proposition.
There are those who think it’s simply not Christmas without snowflakes and spiced hot cocoa, but others can’t imagine anything more perfect than kicking back on a beach and eating prawns after opening the presents. Hopefully, when you read our run-down of what’s to love about Christmas in summer, you’ll add it to your bucket list!
In countries like Australia where most of the population swelters through humid, baking Christmas Days, it would seem odd to imagine a kitchen buzzing with complicated hot dishes in various states of preparation.
The trend is usually towards cold salads, refreshing beverages and platters of prawns, crabs, oysters and cold meats. Still however, some prefer to stick to traditions from their Motherland and cook up what they were used to eating at Christmas time back in Europe, Canada or the US.
A family with an Italian background may still have pasta followed by roast meats for lunch and Canadian or American ex-pats may not be willing to forgo their turkey with all the trimmings. If someone is prepared to slave over a hot stove and oven on their precious Christmas Day, then who’s to stop them?
Mostly, Australians have a backyard barbecue with steaks, sausages and seafood accompanied by leafy salads, bread rolls and the ubiquitous pavlova for dessert. The evening meal will consist of leftovers – if anyone has any room to put them! And there’s always sparkling wine, beer and soft drinks, all bobbing around in rapidly melting ice-filled tubs or coolers.
In Australia, fresh, natural Christmas trees are the exception rather than the norm because the growing and harvesting season is at the opposite phase. If a natural tree is used, it would be more likely to be a forest pine however it is illegal to cut them down so various suppliers will grow trees specifically for use at Christmas time.
Considering that in the UK, 8 million real Christmas trees are bought every year, that’s an awful lot of dead trees that could have remained standing if people purchased an artificial one!
So, a fake tree it is, and there are tons of varieties to choose from, ranging from the cheapest of the cheap to the most elaborate and stylishly created artificial look-alikes you could imagine. Christmas lights displays are hugely competitive and attract enormous crowds of visitors on a nightly basis.
Given that the weather is hot and clear, the chance to be outside at night with something festive to look at is one reason for the crowd numbers.
Christmas cards and tree decorations in summer tend away from snowflakes, holly, snowmen, reindeer sleighs and Rudolf. Instead, there are kangaroos, koalas, native flowers, bells and beaches depicted on cards and hanging from trees. You can even find Aussie-style nativity scenes that have Jesus Christ in a manger in an outback shed!
When it’s hot and humid, you won’t find carollers going from door to door offering songs of goodwill and peace on earth. Instead, you will probably see a dozen different Santa Clauses in your day to day goings-on, some in shopping centres, others throwing lollies to children from police cars and fire engines, or arriving at Christmas events on the backs of boats or even on jet skis.
Backyard or beach cricket or footy are popular events on this day of days. What starts as a fun little game inevitably turns into a highly competitive battle for victory and respect, with cheers from the sidelines and good-natured trash talk going on for the duration.
There’s beer, there are children demanding to play and there is always a case of sunburn for participants later on. Nothing soothes Christmas Day sunburn better than a frosty-topped beer and a bucket of chilled prawns.
Church celebrations for a summer Christmas usually involve lots of people sitting in the church, fanning themselves with papers and keen to move outside to socialise and wish everyone glad tidings.
For families getting together on Christmas Day, the priority is on keeping cool so it could involve having someone else prepare lunch or dinner that is served in a five-star hotel ballroom, complete with very welcome air conditioning.
The other part of the day will be spent at the home of friends or relatives, relaxing and chatting, maybe playing a board game, or swimming in a pool, a creek or the beach.
Lots of families go camping at Christmas, to take advantage of the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air, with nothing to do but have fun and relax. Lunch will be a ‘pot luck’ kind of affair with other campers contributing their catch of the day, some sausages for a barbecue, shortbread cookies, alcohol, special Chrissie damper (camp oven bread), lollies and chocolates and whatever other treats they’ve brought along.
If you really want to get your fix of cold climate in December so you can spend your Christmas in Australia rugged up by the fire, then you can always travel to Tasmania and in particular, Hobart.
Being situated so far south and known as ‘the gateway to Antarctica’, some years, the mercury can drop unexpectedly quite low and the air will be filled with the scent of wood fires burning in people’s homes. That’s where you can really imagine a northern hemisphere Christmas, even though you could hardly be farther south.
Forget all the traditional carols’ lyrics if you’re going to spend Christmas in summer. There’s no snow, no sleigh rides and there are certainly no chimneys for Santa to climb down.
But even if you only experience it once in your life, a summer Christmas could possibly change your mind about what it means to celebrate, exchange gifts and eat, drink and be merry on December 25th.