10 Must-Try Christmas Traditions In Australia

Top 10 Christmas Traditions In Australia

Most people celebrate Christmas in winter, but in Australia, it’s summer. With temperatures around 30°C (86°F), the Christmas traditions in Australia are unique. In Australia, over 95% of people celebrate Christmas. It’s the most popular holiday in the country. Each year, Australians spend about USD 1,079 on Christmas gifts and celebrations. The favourite gifts are gift cards, clothes, books, and cosmetics. Even though it’s warm during Christmas in Australia, many traditions are similar to those in other countries. However, Australians also have traditions that match their culture and weather. In this blog post, we will look at the top 10 Christmas traditions in Australia. These include the famous Aussie barbecue and the special Christmas bush.

Key Takeaways

  • In Australia, Christmas falls in summer, leading to unique traditions like beach barbecues, surfing Santas, and decorating with native flowers. This seasonal twist makes the celebrations vibrant and distinct.
  • Australians cherish community gatherings, from Carols by Candlelight events to neighbourhood parties. These traditions encourage a feeling of togetherness and joy, highlighting the friendly and lively nature of Australian culture.
  • Australians integrate local elements into their Christmas celebrations, such as using native Christmas trees and sending cards featuring native plants and animals. This displays their heritage and also supports local businesses and the environment.

Carols By Candlelight

Carols by Candlelight is a cherished Australian Christmas Eve tradition. Communities come together to sing carols under the stars. Local choirs, orchestras, and celebrity guests perform. The audience joins in with classics like “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells.” This tradition began in Melbourne in 1938. Radio DJ Norman Banks saw an elderly woman singing carols alone by candlelight and was inspired. Now, cities and towns across Australia hold Carols by Candlelight events. Thousands of people attend, and money is raised for charities. Here are some unique facts on them: 

Unique FactValue
First televised Carols by Candlelight event1956
Longest-running Carols by Candlelight event          Sydney’s Carols in the Domain, started in 1980
Largest Carols by Candlelight event       Sydney’s Carols in the Domain, with over 80,000 attendees in 2019
Charitable organisations supported       Various, including The Salvation Army, The Smith Family, and local community groups
Iconic location for Carols by CandlelightSidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne

Decorating With Summer Flowers

In Australia, Christmas comes during the summer. People love decorating with native flowers and plants. This tradition gives a special touch to the holiday season. Instead of evergreens and poinsettias, Australians use their own flowers. They make wreaths, bouquets, and other decorations with these blooms. Popular choices are the Christmas bush, waratahs, and Christmas bells. The Christmas bush has green leaves and cream-coloured flowers that turn red by Christmas. These summer flowers show off the Australian landscape and add colour and fragrance to homes during the holidays. Check them here: 

FlowerBloom TimeSymbolism
Christmas Bush November to January  Represents the Australian Summer Christmas
WaratahSeptember to NovemberThe state flower of New South Wales symbolising courage and strength
Christmas Bells October to January      A native wildflower that blooms during the Australian Christmas season
Flannel Flower  August to November   A delicate native bloom that symbolises the Australian bush

Enjoying A Christmas Day Barbecue

Having a Christmas Day barbecue is a beloved tradition in Australia. It matches the warm weather and love for outdoor fun. Families and friends gather to enjoy grilled meats like sausages, burgers, steaks, prawns, and fresh fish. It’s not just about the food; it’s the joy of cooking outside. They often have cold salads, bread rolls, and refreshing drinks like beer. Here are some exciting facts about Christmas Day barbecues in Australia:

Christmas Day Barbecue Trends 
Most Popular BBQ Meat  Sausages and Prawns
Common Side Dishes   Potato Salad, Coleslaw
Beverage of Choice      Australian Beers
Average Number of Guests        10-15
Favourite BBQ DessertPavlova

Attending Church Services

Attending church during Christmas is a cherished tradition in Australia. Even with changing demographics and fewer people attending church regularly, nearly half of Australians, about 45%, would go to a Christmas service if invited. This shows how important community and spiritual connections are during the holidays. Interestingly, 81% of Australians support the religious traditions and symbols of Christmas. This shows a strong cultural bond with the season. Below is a table showing how different generations in Australia feel about going to church during Christmas.

GenerationPercentage Planning to Attend Christmas Service
Gen Z42%
Baby Boomers38%
Gen X35%

Sending Christmas Cards And Hampers

Sending Christmas cards and hampers is a beloved tradition in Australia. Over 85% of the population takes part in this festive practice. A Christmas postage stamp costs less than a standard letter, making it easier to send cards. Recently, sending Christmas hampers has grown in popularity. Many companies now gift them to clients and staff. Australian Christmas cards often feature native plants, animals, kangaroos, and koalas. This adds a unique touch to the season. Sending cards and hampers brings joy and supports local businesses and the postal service.

Percentage of Australians who send Christmas cards85%
Average number of Christmas cards sent per household       25
Increase in popularity of sending Christmas hampers over the past 20 years200%
Number of companies gifting Christmas hampers to clients and staff      75000
Percentage of Christmas cards featuring Australian themes       60%
Estimated economic impact of Christmas card and hamper traditionsUSD 500 million

Celebrating With Parties And Gatherings

In Australia, celebrating Christmas is all about parties and gatherings. Families and friends come together in the festive spirit. The warm summer weather is perfect for outdoor fun. People enjoy barbecues, beach picnics, and street parties. A 2023 survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 85% of Australians prefer social gatherings for Christmas. They love backyard barbecues, beach parties, and street celebrations. This tradition highlights the friendly and lively nature of Australian culture.

Preference for Gatherings         85% of Australians prefer celebrating Christmas with social gatherings
Popular Activities        Backyard barbecues, beach parties, street celebrations
Community EngagementNeighbourhoods organise street parties and impromptu gatherings
Festive Atmosphere    Streets filled with laughter, music, and shared moments

Surfing Santa

The Surfing Santa tradition is a beloved part of Christmas traditions in Australia. Families and friends gather at famous beaches like Bondi, Manly, and the Gold Coast. They come to see hundreds of surfers dressed as Santa Claus riding the waves under the warm summer sun. Many Surfing Santa events also support local charities. Fundraising for these causes is a common and important part of the celebrations. The Surfing Santa event has turned into a joyful and touching tradition. It perfectly captures the spirit of an Australian Christmas with sun, surf, and a bit of playful holiday magic.

Year and Location of Guinness World Record          2015 at Bondi Beach, Sydney
Event Description       Most Santas surfing at once
Number of Surfing Santas          320
Average Water Temperature    22°C
Popular Surfing Santa Beaches Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, Gold Coast
Surfboard Designs       Custom Santa-themed surfboards

Eating Prawns

Eating prawns is a key part of the Australian Christmas tradition. This custom has deep roots in the country’s culinary history. Convicts of the First Fleet introduced it in late 1788. Since then, Christmas in Australia has evolved to include prawns in the festive feast. The warm Australian climate and summer season have shaped these traditions. Families gather for Christmas Day lunch and enjoy prawns, oysters, decorated hams, roast turkey, salads, and roast vegetables.

Percentage of annual prawn consumption during Christmas         40%
Total tonnes of prawns consumed at Christmas       22,000
Equivalent volume of prawns in Olympic-sized swimming pools10
Percentage of Australians who rank prawns as the most essential Christmas ingredient55%

Native Christmas Trees

The use of Native Christmas Trees is becoming popular as a different choice from the usual European pine trees. These native plants add a special touch to Christmas decor and also help protect local plants. These plants include Sturt’s desert pea, Bottlebrush, Callitris pine, Woolly bush, Holly-leaf grevillea, Christmas bush, and Christmas bells. They give Christmas a unique Australian feel and help local wildlife by offering food and shelter. Using these native plants shows a growing awareness of the need to preserve Australia’s diverse plant life.

Native Christmas Tree SpeciesUnique Feature
Sturt’s desert pea         Floral emblem of South Australia
Bottlebrush    Provides nectar for birds
Callitris pine  It resembles a classic pine tree shape
Woolly bush   Silvery foliage, suitable for pot or garden
Holly-leaf grevillea      Spiky, holly-like leaves, ideal for wreaths
Christmas bush  Covered in white flowers, native to different regions
Christmas bells  Produces bell-shaped red and yellow flowers

Boxing Day Cricket And Sales

In Australia, Boxing Day has deep ties to Christmas. It started with English masters giving their servants the day off after Christmas and a box of leftover food and treats for their families. This kind gesture became a public holiday in the UK in 1871 and was later adopted by Australian colonies. Over the years, Boxing Day turned into a significant shopping event, with retailers offering big discounts and sales. It became a key part of the post-Christmas shopping season. Boxing Day is also known for starting the Boxing Day Test cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Cultural TraditionBoxing Day Test cricket and Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race start on Boxing Day.
Retail PracticesDifferent store opening rules across Australian states on Boxing Day. 
Economic ImpactAustralians spend USD 2.4 million annually on Boxing Day sales.         
Retail EvolutionEvolution of Boxing Day sales from excess stock clearance to major shopping events.
Shopping FrenzyShoppers lost fingertips in the 1993 Boxing Day sales frenzy.   
Retail TraditionBoxing Day sales tradition was firmly established in Australia by the 2000s.          

Top 5 Major Christmas Events Across Australia

During Christmas, there are several events which see a large number of people in attendance. The event ropes in Christmas spirit and makes it memorable for many to remember. Check some of the the most popular Christmas events here: 

Event NameLocationDetails
Carols by Candlelight  MelbourneIt is an annual event at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Enjoy performances by top artists and end the night with a stunning fireworks show.
Christmas Pageant       AdelaideOne of the biggest Christmas parades in the world features floats, bands, and performers along the route.
Sydney Christmas ParadeSydneyA lively parade moves through the city streets. Festive floats, marching bands, and Santa Claus lead the way.
Christmas Lights SpectacularHunter ValleyEvery year, the Hunter Valley Gardens come alive with a stunning show of lights, music, and entertainment. This event draws in many visitors.
Christmas in the City   BrisbaneExperience the magic of Christmas in Brisbane with festive markets, dazzling light displays, and lively entertainment in the city’s heart.

Christmas traditions in Australia offer a unique mix of festive celebrations that capture the essence of a sunny and warm holiday season. From Carols by Candlelight to beach barbecues, cricket matches, and the famous Boxing Day events, Australian Christmas traditions show a relaxed outdoor spirit. These traditions bring Australians together to enjoy the holiday season with an Aussie touch, making Christmas in Australia a memorable and heartwarming experience for everyone.


What Are Some Unique Christmas Traditions In Australia?

Beach barbecues, Carols by Candlelight, and Christmas light displays.

Is It Common To Have A Beach Christmas In Australia?

Yes, many Australians celebrate Christmas with beach picnics and swims.

Are There Any Specific Foods Australians Enjoy During Christmas?

Seafoods like prawns, ham, and pavlova are popular Christmas foods in Australia.

What Are Some Family-Friendly Christmas Activities In Australia?

Visiting Christmas markets, watching fireworks, and attending community events.

Are There Any Special Events Or Festivals During Christmas In Australia?

Carols in the Domain in Sydney and the Adelaide Christmas Pageant are popular events.

We hope this article on must-try Christmas events was helpful in understanding the festival in Australia, read similar articles here,

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