Merry Christmas, deck the halls and bring out the turkey and stuffing, let’s put up a tree -- sorry what was that, it’s only July! Well this is Australia alright mate. Calm down and have a mince pie, we celebrate Christmas in July here.
Christmas in July is a popular tradition in Australia, a country where the heat of summer coincides with the celebrations of the Christian holiday. Christmas Day on the 25th of December is at the heart of an annual winter holiday for the northern hemisphere and has long been associated with cold nights, warm drinks and snow. After all, Bing Crosby sang that he was “dreaming of a white Christmas.”
In Australia that dream is rather far off. With temperatures known to rise as high as 38 or 39 degrees celsius on Christmas Day and Boxing Day - quite often making it into the 40s - the only white Christmas to be seen is on the white sandy beaches. Which doesn’t sound like too bad a way to spend a day. Swimming in a pool or at the beach are popular Christmas activities and a barbecue is more than common for Christmas dinner, but some Aussies crave more.
It is little wonder some Australians have opted to celebrate Christmas in July as well. In the middle of the Australian winter it may not get as cold as in Europe, but with temperatures dropping into the teens it is chilly enough to start to feel a little Christmassy, and so Australia takes this as an excuse to celebrate a second Christmas.
The celebration follows British Christmas traditions: a turkey roast will sit in the middle of the dinner table with roast potatoes, stuffing to accompany it. There will more than likely be a Christmas tree set up and decorated and perhaps even a gift or two. Secret Santas, where each person is randomly assigned another person to find a gift for, are the most popular form of gift giving. After all this is an extra Christmas, not a replacement Christmas so there is no need to go overboard.
This is also a time to celebrate Christmas a little wackier, a time to don Christmas jumpers and red dresses with fake white fur around the edges. All the things you wouldn’t dream of wearing in the heat of summer.
Australia has a high immigrant population, one in four of those living in the country was born elsewhere. Having every one of your grandparents born in Australia is incredibly rare. Instead the population of the country is made up of nationalities from all over the world. The majority still trace a European ancestry or are directly European and so it is unsurprising that there is a strong desire to celebrate a traditional Christmas.
It is not just Australia that celebrates Christmas in July however. Every July Denmark celebrates a summery Christmas with the annual Summer Santa Claus Convention. While other northern hemisphere countries celebrate it with a slight ironic twist.