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Holidays

How one family spent their Christmas holiday

The school year ends during early December and the next school year does not commence until about the end of January. As the children are on holiday many working people take all or part of their annual leave entitlement during this period. As well there are public holidays for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. On the 26 January there is a public holiday for Australia Day which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet bringing white settlers to Australia.

This results in a relaxed casual holiday mood being felt throughout the entire country from Christmas Day to late January.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is another English custom that has been adopted by Australia. Its roots go back at least to medieval times, when it was the custom to break open church alms boxes at Christmas and distribute the contents to the poor, but as a holiday Boxing Day only dates from the last century.

An Australian Boxing day holiday has all the advantages of Christmas with lots of food and drink plus a chance to doze in an armchair during daylight hours while watching the major sporting events on TV. For the more energetic you can actually attend a test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race or attend a sporting event in your neighbourhood or laze on the beach.

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Save this page in your Favourites folder, bookmarking it for use next Christmas

Religious celebrations

Christmas is one of the major events of the Christian calendar and is celebrated in Australia with many Church services which commence on Christmas eve and continue through Christmas Day. Australia is a nation of immigrants and they have brought with them may different faiths. The local TV news and daily newspapers usually give a report on the numbers attending services at local churches and a summary of the theme of the senior bishops sermon.

Christmas presents & stockings

Christmas presents Christmas stockings

The Christmas presents are arranged under the Christmas tree, with surf boards or bicycles left outside to be discovered by following instructions in a note under the tree.
With all presents stacked under the tree, the family gather around the tree and presents are distributed by the younger members of the family. In some families when a gift is handed to a person all present wait while that person opens the package, and then the next present is delivered.

Hanging stockings or sox or even pillow cases is now out of fashion. There is no mantel piece over the fireplace on which to hang them as most homes have air conditioners or combustion heaters. Even the traditional bed post has disappeared with the modern bed usually not having a foot-board and many not having a bed-head. So all presents go under the tree.

Further information on presents and stockings:-

On 23 Nov 2002 I received the following from an Australian visitor to this page.

"I read on your site that 'all presents now go under the tree'. I have checked the stores and see a vast array of Santa Sacks, Stockings and Pillow slips. A quick survey of 50 kids at a local preschool revealed that 98% of them hung, tied, or laid a pillow slip (or sack) on or near their bed on Xmas Eve. (The other 2% was a Jewish child). The fact that your site is read by many international visitors I think it important that the content is actually correct."

My thanks to Trevor for taking the trouble to complete these surveys.

Writing to Father Christmas

Received this email in December 2002.
I would like to know if the kids in Australia write to Santa Claus in the North Pole or the South Pole? What is the address for Santa where you are? Thank you. I am a 7 yr old girl who would like to know.

P.S. Are you an Elf ?   How do you know so much ?   Are you Santa's best friend or what ?
Answer     All Australian children write to the North Pole because it is winter time up there and down here it is summer.     I know so much because I am 71 years old.

Grown-ups only

Only daddies and mummies, uncles and aunties or grown-up children are allowed to look at this special Santa letter hidden on another page. Are you old enough    YES       NO

Christmas trees & Decorations

Christmas trees Decorations

Most homes have a Christmas Tree in the lounge or family room. It was traditionally a live limb from a pine tree (pinus radiata) or a small tree. The pinus radiata is not native to Australia but is grown for the construction timber which can be sawn from it. Some families use a native eucalyptus tree branch but this does not look like a traditional Christmas Tree. Other families live near a Christmas Tree Farm and visit it to purchase a tree. In recent years many homes have a plastic tree which is stored away and reused each year.

The subject of tree decoration timing has a separate page as email questions asked the questions when to put up Christmas decorations and when they should be taken down.
Plus what is placed at the top of the tree and why and when.


17 Dec 2012 - Received from Laurie

When I was growing up in Adelaide in the thirties, I recall that the little suburban shops would tie gum or pine branches to their verandah posts as Christmas decorations.

Door wreaths

A wombat

A survey of homes shows that about ten percent of the homes have a door wreath. Therefore the wreath can not be considered part of the Australian tradition of Christmas. The Australian door wreath is made of artificial material, plastic or similar, and coloured gold or the traditional green, red and silver.

Received this email 30 November 2005 Hiya, read your internet site about Australia and Christmas traditions. As a 5th generation Aussie I can say it was very interesting and pretty close to the core. The only exception I can see is where you say that only 10% of people have door wreaths.

I'm not sure what area you live in but where I'm from, the beach suburbs of southern Sydney, the majority of people have always had door wreaths, from the time I was a child (late 50's - 60's) most homes had a wreath on the door, and it's even more so now!

The Man in Red

Father Christmas driving his white kangaroo.

Santa Claus and Father Christmas are fully interchangeable names for the man in the red suit. With no chimney for him to climb down, how does he arrive to place all those presents under the tree? I believe he must have a master key to every modern home in Australia, and lets himself in the front door. As we still have a chimney I know he does not have a key to our door. He drives white kangaroo, instead of reindeer, while in Australia.

Just for Fun

How Australian say "Merry Christmas"

In response to one visitor asking "I was wondering if there is a special way that Australians say Merry Christmas?".
My wife remembered something that she learnt in her childhood.
Divide Merry Christmas into M - erry - Ch - ristmas.
Swap the Ch and M and rejoin to make "Cherry Mristmas".

Merry ChristmasOr what about like this from the Land Down Under.
Cooling off during work

In December 1999 a photographer from the Ulladulla Times newspaper caught Father Christmas stripping off for a cooling swim before continuing on his rounds. The next year he was seen by a billabong, boot and sox off, cooling his feet.

Father Christmas enjoys the Australian weather

There was an unconfirmed story
that he was also seen
waterskiing and wind surfing (See the 1977 postage stamp).

Father Christmas cools his feet in a billabong

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