Australia’s Christmas Number One
Last Updated On: December 19, 2022 by The Migration Translators
While the annual countdown to the infamous Christmas number one single has already begun pretty much across the world, one Australian has already assured himself and his family of a Christmas number one hit. They have just been awarded the Guinness World Record for Christmas lights on a residential property, setting up 502,165 in a mammoth project that took approximately 2 months to implement. They comfortably beat the previous record holders, a family from New York, who used a mere 346,283 lights.
David Richards and his family were helped by a local power company, which donated the electricity needed to send power through the 31 miles of wire used in the display. This weekend the Richards’ Canberra home will be opened to the public as a charity fundraiser and the lights will stay on until Christmas. It’s not known what Mr. Richards will do if his record is beaten, but he says that putting up any more lights would require a unique generator for all the electricity. Judging by the reaction of the people who have visited the display, Christmas lights are a universal language.
How Christmas is celebrated in Australia
Christmas in Australia
Many Australians, the majority, in fact, have European ancestry. A surprising number of Australians were born elsewhere and have migrated to the Great Southern Land, bringing their language and culture with them. This means that despite the fact that Christmas evolved in the Northern hemisphere and is associated with snowy winter scenes, and well-wrapped-up people celebrating, it is still an important holiday period down under. For those Australians who see Christmas as a time to renew their faith and remember the birth of Jesus Christ, it really doesn’t matter where they are, just as Christians anywhere in the hotter parts of the world stop and recognize the religious rituals surrounding Christmas.
For the less religious or the nonreligious, Christmas is primarily an occasion to get together with family and friends and enjoy time off work, share gifts, food and drink, and each others’ company. Because of Australia’s location and the fact that it occurs in the middle of summer, Christmas is of course much more likely to be celebrated outdoors, on the beach, or in people’s backyards. Typical family activities include backyard cricket matches, barbecues, and plenty of protective clothing against the sun and sometimes annoying insects.
Christmas, despite its importance to Christians around the world, has become something in which everyone can take part. Australia has a diverse, multicultural population, with residents who have migrated from or were born to migrants from places where Christmas may not have been celebrated, but this doesn’t stop Christmas from being a time for relaxation, fun, and family time for everyone.
Fun facts about Christmas in Australia
Christmas has to be adapted to different conditions in Australia, most obviously because it occurs in the middle of summer, not winter! Christmas on or by the beach or a river or lake is common and certainly more likely to be outdoors than in the Northern hemisphere.
One well-known variation on a northern hemisphere Santa Claus and his reindeer is the idea of Santa ditching the reindeer for kangaroos, immortalized in a song by Australian singer Rolf Harris “six white boomers.”
Australians may or may not opt for a Christmas turkey, but a commonly used alternative is to fire up the barbecue, with snags (sausages), meat of some kind or another, and prawns are thrown onto it.
As for mulled wine, a winter Christmas specialty, Aussies are far more likely to down a few stubbies (bottles) of ice-cold beer!
Australian Christmas traditions
Although Christmas for many Australians would be recognizable anywhere else in the world where it is celebrated, there are differences in Christmas traditions depending on the background of those celebrating and whether they were born in Australia or recent migrants. The latter are more likely to have Christmas traditions resembling those they took part in when they lived in their original countries.
Christmas events in Sydney and Melbourne
Australia’s two largest cities have numerous well-advertised and well-organized Christmas-themed events leading up to Christmas, although probably the best-known event, watched by millions in Australia and around the world is the New Year’s fireworks display in and around Sydney Harbour.
Other events in both cities include markets, carol singing, activities for kids including that old favorite – a visit to the old chap in the red coat with the white beard, lighting of the Christmas tree(s), etc.
Visiting Australia over Christmas
Many people travel to Australia over Christmas, especially those who have family in the country. Many extend their stay to see more of Australia and its attractions. Most parts of Australia enjoy warm to hot summers and it’s a great time to take advantage of Australia’s beautiful coastline. Many visitors who come for a few weeks or so over Christmas are able to do so with minimum fuss as all they need is a valid passport (must have at least 6 months validity after the date of return) and have applied for and obtained an ETA visa waiver. It gets a bit more complicated for other visitors who may need to apply for a tourist or short-term visitor visa before arrival as this takes longer. Most visitors will find hiring a car while in Australia very useful as public transport options are not that plentiful, especially outside of the larger cities. Valid driving licenses or international driving licenses will be needed and these may need to be translated into English.
Still, for anyone looking to visit Australia for Christmas or at any other time, there are professional NAATI translators who are happy to help with the paperwork.