12 days of a traditional Aussie Christmas
I get a lot of questions from people in Dubai wanting to know what Christmas in Australia is like. “What would the 12 days of a traditional Aussie Christmas look like?” I wondered as I was sitting on the plan on our way to Brisbane for a traditional family Christmas.
I’ve always thought an Aussie Christmas is pretty dull compared to a white Christmas in many other places in the world. When I start to explain it to my friends in Dubai however, I realise that I have completely taken for granted the fact that we grew up in one of the coolest countries in the world – minus the snow of course.
So I thought I would do a quick run-through for those who aren’t familiar with the traditional Aussie Christmas. For you Aussies out there, see if you recognise anything. Oh and make sure you sing the song either out aloud or in your head as you read. So much more effective…
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me – an airport arrival of my family
For us this year, we kicked off the festive week arriving in Brisbane off our 14 hour flight from Dubai. We were smelly, tired with gritty eyes and greasy hair. The Chubs slept a grand total of 3.5 hours but was surprisingly chipper.
It is such a good feeling to walk out into the arrivals hall and hear the first ‘G’day mate’ from the family next to us.
“WAZZA” I hear called from nearby as blokes in their Sunday best rugby shorts and double pluggers shake hands and pat each other on the butt. I lost track of the number of slightly chubby women I saw walking around in leggings wearing their best flip flops. I walk outside, felt the humidity in the air and smelt the frangipani and breathe a deep sigh…. we’re home!
On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a mall full of men shopping
Christmas eve in Australia is the traditional shopping day of the Aussie male.
If you dare brave the crowds, the lack of parking and the screaming children, you walk into the mall and can spot slightly bewildered, stressed looking men in almost every corner.
They are in the Peter Alexander pyjama shop ensconced nighties and fluffy slippers. Roaming the kitchen shops holding blenders and thermomixes. Then there are the brave few who can be seen with bemused looks on their faces evaluating bras and panties in Victoria’s Secret.
Why these creatures choose the last day of the season to make their move is a strange phenomenon experienced, quite possibly only in Australia. Men in other parts of the world seem to be a little more in tune with their shopping genes. The Aussie male tends to either be at the footy/cricket/golf or watching them on TV whilst lying on the couch. Shopping for that special gift for the love of your life tends to feature a little lower on the priority scale.
On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a mall full of pork thankfully!
We head to the mall for some last-minute Christmas shopping. I walk in and it’s as though the heavens have opened up. I’m sure I heard the singing of angels as we walk past the food court. There, sitting out in the middle of the counter for everyone to see is the world’s biggest leg of PORK!!! With crackling no less!!
Next door, I see pork sausages; over the back pork Hainachi. And to wash it all down, in the corner is the worlds biggest grog shop with queues as long as the store. Slabs of XXXX gold and VB are being slung into trolleys (not a Fosters in sight!). And now I’m really struggling to find someone not wearing flip-flops, or ‘thongs’ as they are known in this part of the world. Its really is good to be home!
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a slightly wilted Christmas tree
Most Aussie families still uphold the tradition of a real Christmas tree.
When in Europe or the states, or anywhere else that’s chilly, I totally understand this tradition. Fur trees are a plenty and they have no trouble staying alive for the season.
In Australia, even though it can be temps of up to 35deg celsius and 90% humidity throughout December, for some reason so many of us still schlep it to the Christmas tree lot. You select your funny looking pine tree cut-off with slightly wilted branches to drag home, chuck in a bucket filled with bricks and water and hope it makes it to the big day.
I lost track as a kid of how many pictures we have of a lopsided, wilted pine turning a little brown covered with home-made paper decorations and tinsel. A lovely yet somewhat misplaced tradition.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me – the glorious barbie!
I don’t know too many Aussies who don’t feature the famous Aussie BBQ somewhere in their Christmas celebrations.
Whether it be a spiffy 5-burner with a lid in which the ham and pork bake, or the little portable webber with a couple of prawns and some pork spare-ribs chucked on top. Either way, the barbie is as essential to an Aussie Christmas as the slightly wilted tree.
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me – the radom sitting next to me
Aussies are well-known for being friendly, relaxed and welcoming. When you mention that you’re an Aussie to most foreigners they will reply with “ah – g’day mate”.
The warm and friendly nature of most Aussies means that at most family Christmas events, there will be at least one or two randoms you don’t recognise. Uncle Bob’s lonely friend whose wife has just passed; Katies cousin’s brothers exchange student who doesn’t have any family for Christmas; the guy from across the street who lives on his own and mum felt sorry for. The list goes on.
They don’t necessarily have to talk to anyone. But they always add an interesting dimension – “who is that guy?” you’ll hear as people arrive… “dunno” will often be the answer and everyone continues on with the festivities.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a damn hot turkey
Another strange phenomenon in Australia is the requirement for people to cook a hot, traditional Christmas dinner. Turkey, roast ham or pork, pudding and all the trimmings is standard, even though the pavement is melting outside.
You will then also enjoy the strange combination of cold prawns as a starter to the meal. I don’t think I’ve been to an Aussie Christmas that didn’t include a huge bucket of icy cold prawns and home-made seafood sauce somewhere in the day. Or at the very least, a prawn cocktail – another interesting entree.
Growing up, we always had to do Dad’s family in the morning and have a hot lunch, then the afternoon was off to see Mum’s family for a hot dinner. Prawns always a starter at both of course.
We would all lie around after the meal gasping, snoozing and asking each other why we torture ourselves with all this hot, heavy food. And yet every year continues the same way.
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me – a fight between someone in the family
Aussies don’t mind a drink. Many of them don’t really understand the concept of one or two. This can tend to lead to some slightly challenging issues at the Christmas celebration.
Given that Christmas is a time for family, often it’s the only day of the year where extended relatives whom you don’t know that well get together. Quite often, there will be some simmering undercurrents of issues between at least one or two people in the crowd.
As we were finishing off our lovely lunch this year, carols softly playing in the background, we started to hear raised voices and the scraping of furniture from next door.
“Well whadya come ere for then ya mongrel” can clearly be heard ringing from the neighbours wife’s ample frame as doors slam and cars do burnouts in the front driveway. I know of umpteen similar stories where someone can’t handle their grog and decides to take up that simmering issue that happened 5 years ago. An Aussie Christmas just isn’t the same without it.
On the ninth to the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me – cricket with the family
I’ve rolled these days together as the remainder of an Aussie Christmas tends to be an extended family cricket match. Either on the beach or in the backyard.
These can extend on for days depending on how many kids there are still interested and how many of the dad’s feel the need to show off their bowling finesse or once near professional batting strokes.
There will usually be at least one serious injury over the life of the match. Dad pulls his hammie. Little Joey gets a smack in the balls with the tennis ball and has to lie down. Little Janey spits the dummy when she gets caught out and storms off to cry and sulk for the rest of the day.
The family cricket match can also be the perfect place to settle old scores between brothers and/or cousins. Equally it can be a chance for the family patriarch to catch a quick kip under the fig tree at the bottom of the garden.
Well, that about sums up the Aussie Christmas for you. Aussie aussie aussie – oi oi oi, eskis, the Barbie and plenty of beer.
Join us down under one year and perhaps enjoy the sensation of being the random at the end of someones table. We’d love to have you!
Merry Aussie Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.