In Australia and New Zealand, Christmas and summer break happen at the same time. The celebration of Christmas in many countries is in the dead of winter, but not in Australia. That’s because in Australia and New Zealand, Christmas coincides with the summer because they are below the Equator, which flips summer to early December through February.
Confused? It’s due to the axis of the earth. When the northern hemisphere is angled towards the sun, the south pole is angled away from it, and vice versa. This 23.5 degree inclination of the planet relative to our orbit around the sun is the cause of the seasons. All the thermal energy the south gets in December is heat the north does not get, so in the north it’s cold when the south has their hottest months from December through February or so. Still confused? Check out YouTube.
Since Christmas is celebrated in summer, Aussies and Kiwis have unique customs, including:
- Meet Santa Claus at the beach
If you visit the coast of Australia at Christmas time, you can meet Santa Claus at the beach! You might find him in a canoe, surfing, or just hanging out on the beach. At Crescent Head there is ‘The Crescent Head Santa Surf”, where you will find many people surfing in Santa costumes.
- Vacation with family
Since Christmas falls during the summer holiday, most Australians spend it on vacation with family. There are plenty of places in Australia to visit, such as Wollongong City (or you can see all the Hobbit and LOTR sites in New Zealand!) Wollongong city has a shopping center called Crown Street Mall, a popular place to go at Christmas time. This mall has many fun Christmas activities, including indoor ice skating. Another popular place to visit is Batemans Bay in New South Wales, where you will find Bells Family Carnival, with lots of fun rides.
- Decorate the house
Australians hang wreathes on their front doors and go Christmas caroling on Christmas Eve. In addition, people who celebrate Christmas also decorate their homes with a Christmas Bush. The Christmas bush is a native tree with small green leaves and white flowers. In the summer, usually during Christmas, the flowers turn a deep red.
- Go Christmas Caroling
Most towns and cities have a Carols by Candlelight service. This has been a tradition in Australia since 1973. One of the biggest services is in Melbourne, where thousands of people gather to sing their favorite Christmas songs. These events are broadcasted throughout Australia.
- Boxing Day
“Boxing Day”, or the day after Christmas, is a national holiday in Australia. Australians usually gather on the beach to barbecue and race yachts. Based in history, the day following Christmas Day, was when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers. Many countries call it “2nd Christmas.”
In addition to the wide range of unique activities above, the Christian community in Australia also has a Christmas worship service. Afterward, families have lunch together. They usually have some kind of meat, ham or roasted duck. An Australian dessert called Pavlova is also a must. Pavlova is a meringue with a fresh fruit topping.
Traveling to Australia or New Zealand? If so grab some travel insurance from one of our GNI Team members here at Good Neighbor Insurance. Why? Because even bad things happen to good people! You can get hurt during a summer break as easily as slipping on ice in the winter! It is not a matter of “if I need medical care while traveling overseas,” But “When will I need it?” I’d rather give my international medical insurance card to a medical evacuation team, then hand them my Visa card. Wouldn’t you? We are committed to keeping travelers safe, all-year round. Call us at our toll free number, 866-636-9100, or here in Arizona at 480-633-9500. Or email us at . One of our international insurance agents will be glad to provide you the best travel insurance options to fit your travels.
Travel safe. Travel smart.