Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer, therefore the usual Christmas meal is often salads and cold meats, while some of the older generation still have the traditional roast meats, baked vegetables and plum pudding.
The Christmas meal may either be taken in the middle of the day which is the hottest part of the day or in the cooler evening hours. With some families opting for a celebration meal as dinner on Christmas eve.
A collection of menus from various locations in Australia.
|A family from Katherine, Northern Territory report that they try and stick to a Christmas dinner on the BBQ. Generally this includes Barra, steak, and some spuds. Followed by pavlova and beer.
Barra is short for Barramundi a large fish common to the northern Territory, it is usually caught during the fishing season prior to Christmas. It has a taste all of its own. You either like it or hate it.
They generally eat out doors if the weather isn't to hot and sticky. Then we move everything indoors. Christmas Day temperature varies from 35 to 41 degrees Centigrade (90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) with humidity at around 60 - 80%. By mid afternoon there is usually a storm rolling in again if the one from the day before hasn't left. When a storm is brewing the wind usually picks up and everything on the table ends up on the ground.
They are only 325km south of Darwin and have had many a Christmas interrupted by storms, rain and loss of power thanks to the wet season.
A person raised in inland Queensland states that the traditional Christmas food in that state is cold ham, cold turkey, salad and cold beer, paper hat with the colour running down the face due to the heat followed by a long sleep on the veranda.
A Queensland resident who lives 200 km inland from Rockhampton reports
'I have talked to a couple of people, and they seem to stick to the roast dinner type meal, with turkey and/or chicken, pork, ham, etc..., then a selection of baked vegetables with carrots and peas. It is then followed by plum pudding with custard and ice cream'.
Another person claims that the Sydney tradition is oysters, prawns, crayfish and Chardonnay followed by a swim in the surf.
My Western Australian contributor reports :-|
My sister and I normally go to mum and dad's at about 10.30 and start the task of peeling potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, as Mum insists on having the Christmas lunch at her house.
We always open the presents when every one arrives.
Then we have a traditional lunch of:
Roast Meats: Turkey, pork, beef and a baked ham
Roast Vegetables: Potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potatoes
Other Vegetables: Broccoli & cauliflower with white sauce, peas and beans. and of course gravy and cranberry sauce.
When we sit down to eat, we toast with a glass of champagne, and then open the Christmas crackers. It is mandatory to wear your paper hat and read out your joke!
The meal is completed with plum pudding with custard.
Mum insists on this traditional meal, even when it gets to the high 30 Celsius (as it will this year) - we just crank the air conditioner up to its highest point and avoid talking about the heat!
And of course, after lunch the men find a couch to 'meditate on'.
At dinner time we have salads with left over meat from lunch. After dinner, Mum cuts the Christmas cake with the youngest grand-children.
A traditional Tasmanian menu is roast lamb, ham, roast turkey or chicken, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, freshly picked green peas, beans, pumpkin with brown gravy. Desert being hot plum pudding with three penny and six penny coins hidden in the pudding, which was covered in brandy sauce, wine trifle, fresh picked raspberries with cream, fruit salad. And a hot cup of tea to wash it down.
The man of the house took pride in having all of the required vegetables ready for picking from his garden by Christmas Day. He would pick the peas and sit in the shade on the back veranda shelling the peas. In southern Tasmania a variety of a firm creamy potato known as pinkeye was the preferred potato.
Three New South Wales senior residents reminisced about their memories of Christmas dinner at Mum's, many years ago, and came up with the following.
Roast chicken and three vegetables.
Hot plum pudding with white sauce.
Sound simple but what was interesting was the back ground to this meal :-
The chicken was not chicken but a laying hen that was about to finish laying, selected from their backyard poultry pen. Killed, placed in hot water to make the removal of the feathers easier and then cleaned. It was not simply purchased from the supermarket.
The vegetables were from the backyard garden, as most house blocks were a quarter acre and provided room to grow your own vegetables. (D.I.Y. vegetables)
The plum pudding contained small silver tokens, such as stars and butterflies for the children to find while eating their plum pudding.
December 2006, Tracey wrote from Tamworth, NSW.
I did notice that not once during any food segments did you mention wish making. I was brought up with the tradition that once the pudding had all it's ingredients in everyone in the family had to stir the pudding and make a wish as they stirred. However your wish wouldn't come true unless you ate a piece of pudding on Christmas day.
For some reason I think my mum added this because I didn't like to eat Christmas Pudding and it was the only sure way I would eat the pudding.
19 December 2006 Lyn, NSW. wrote:-
No, it wasn't invented by her mum to make her eat the pud, it's a very old English tradition and is still upheld in many English households the stirring of the pud by all members of the family, then the wishing as you eat the first bite, with a special wish going to whoever finds the 'silver sixpence' or 'threepenny bit'. I've managed to keep a silver sixpence in my Christmas fare tools for just this purpose.
When I first came to Australia I did attempt to do the full Christmas dinner (more for my mums benefit) but after a couple of years it was just to hot!... We've since adopted the Australian style of fresh seafood starter, apricot and honey glazed ham or apricot stuffed turkey (cooked on the barbie of course) and salads one each provided by various members of the family. I've made several varieties of 'Christmas Cake / Pudding' one of the most popular being the ice-cream mixed up with nuts, fresh and dried fruit and alcohol as per classic pud Shaped into a ball and 'iced' with plain vanilla ice-cream and a sprig of plastic holly!
This year it's to be a classic Yorkshire Vinegar Cake one of my mums heirloom recipes, for the Christmas Cake, in her honour.
Something I don't see often in Australia is the 'Boxing Day Lunch'. This is Turkey leftovers, with a ham, and other cold meats served with pickles, chutneys and salads and, for some reason I remember, hard boiled eggs. This was followed by the classic sherry trifle, more mince pies and watching of the TV.
I have to plead for one addition to the lunch menu.
Here in Tasmania fresh raspberries with a sprinkling of icing sugar. We kids always picked them on Christmas morning and now it is the job of the next generation.
As always the challenge is getting enough in the billy which make it to the table before they are eaten. It's just a little like entrusting the pea shelling job to children. I admit to being 50+ but we still have fresh peas and raspberries in our family.
3 Jan 2013 Hi, I just discovered your web site and I love it. Thank you for creating it.
I was born in England but emigrated to Australia in 1961 as a baby.
We have always had the traditional hot Christmas roast lunch, with home made sausage rolls, mince pies and pudding Usually made a year before. (Editors note - My wife, aged 79, made her last two plum puddings in 2011, we ate one in 2011 and the other in December 2012. Pudding making has now been passed down to a grandaughter.)
I love the tradition even though it's me now that has to swelter in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, but that is where the 'Englishness' ends. I couldn't imagine it being cold at Christmas no bbqs, no street parties, no Christmas light displays, no sitting on the front lawn Christmas Eve waiting for the CFA truck with Santa throwing lollies.
I love the Aussie Christmas songs and stories that I share with my children. In all I love Australia and we should stand up and be proud of our country and stop copying other countries on the other side of the world!
Cheers Carole :-)
October 2007 - At an eightieth birthday luncheon Nan and Helen, who had both grown up in Sydney, were talking about how their mother's, some 70 years ago, had worked so hard to prepare Christmas lunch in the hot weather.
They mentioned the making of Brandy Butter to serve with the plum pudding, so I requested the recipe.
½ pound of butter at room temperature.
½ cup of castor sugar.
Beat together until a very pale colour and sugar is dissolved as far as no obvious crystals left.
Add brand very, very slowly - just drips at first or the mix will curdle.
Helen uses about half a small flask of brandy, but has never measured it. Nan thinks it would be about ¾ of a cup - according to taste.
The beating of this mixture is a very energetic exercise and is not recommended for a very hot day.