An Antipodeal Christmas

This is a question for all the Antipodeal Dopers out there:

Christmas here in the northern hemisphere seems to be tied to a lot of things: trees, presents, Santa, and is the general catch-all for celebrating winter - and all that goes with that: snow, cold, etc. Even in areas of North America that don’t get the kind of weather we do here in Winnipeg for Christmas (places like Los Angeles, Miami, etc.) they still seem to sing carols like “Jingle Bells” ("dashing through the snow … "), “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, “Frosty the Snowman”, even “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (not a Christmas carol per se, but it’s only trotted out with the rest of them). Kids colour pictures of snowmen even though they probably have never built one in their lives.

I’m wondering, though, how different Christmas celebrations are south of the Equator than they are up here? While your weather may be like that of Miami, it’s still at least meterologically winter there (despite the fact that they’re still wearing shorts I bet), while it’s summer down there. Is Christmas divorced from its winter trappings there? How different is an antipodeal Christmas from ones in North America (either from what you know of our Christmases, or if you’ve actually experienced Christmas in both hemispheres)? What’s missing there? What traditions are down there that you won’t find at all up here?

The subject has come up on the SDMB before, and from what I remember, Australian Christmas decor is very similar to that which you’d find in Miami; which is to say, ironic snowflakes painted on windows, Santa in swim trucks, etc.

Yes, a lot of the iconography, etc., is derived from the British Christmas tradition. There are a few differences, however. Many people prefer to have a Christmas dinner with seafood and salads, rather than a roast dinner, since the weather is likely to be hot. Christmas pudding (served with ice cream) is still popular, however. In addition, there’s an increasing celebration of “Christmas in July” or “Yule” around the same time, i.e., in the middle of winter – both so that people can have the traditional Christmas foods at a time when the weather is cooler, and so that you can have two “Christmases” each year :slight_smile:

Sneaky, that.

Its either antipodal or antipodean.

To answer your question, no, its all much the same bar the snowball fights, sometimes the food and the weather (family tradition states that wherever my family has christmas, it will rain). I don’t really agree that all the snowflakes and winter scenes are ironic, more just symbolic. And yes there are lots of christmas cards with saint nick in shorts having a BBQ.

Oh and going to the beach for christmas is pretty cool.

One aspect unique to New Zealand is that the Pohutukawa Trees on the coast bloom right about now, people often call them ‘New Zealand Christmas trees’ (We have the normal sort too.)

Giles is correct. The British traditions are still strong, Christmas trees are still ubiquitous and so are Santa sleds. Though it seems to be less references to snow over time. Not as much snow painted onto windows or snow scenes on Christmas cards, with more ironic beach references.

Google images ‘christmas’ versus ‘christmas australia’.

Pretty spot on, our christmas lunch will be a Turkey, vegies etc but we will also have a shed load of seafood. Lot’s of prawns, lobster [my god only $20 a kilo!], fresh fish on the BBQ.

Santa in swimmers [bathers] is an oddity and not a norm. We are descendants of the scandinavians, german, english and irish in the area I live so much like the USA.

Much the same in South Africa - the public Christmas culture is, as in Australia and NZ, largely based on the British and to some extent the American. There is something rather odd about hearing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” playing in the supermarket when the temperature is 30°C outside.

In my family - descendants of English settlers - we used to do the traditional roast chicken and vegetables for Christmas dinner, until we finally managed to convince my grandmother that it was neither necessary nor particularly appreciated in midsummer temperatures.

Just pretend it’s 30°F!

Pretty much identical except for the weather. I still saw guys in Santa suits when I was out shopping today, I don’t envy them one little bit! The Christmas in July thing is a bit weird in my opinion, especially since it never gets that cold where I live, it’s always warm.

Much the same here.
Nan was a traditionalist, though a 5th generation Aussie. The extended family always went to the main homestead for Christmas dinner (unless bush fires were in the district) which comprised a banquet of lamb, beef, pork, chicken and turkey (from our own farms), all roasted with all the veges followed by steam pudding, custard & cream. Outside temp, maybe above 40C. The kitchen would have been even more. Utter madness.

We didn’t get mains power in our area until the early 70’s so there were no deep freezers or air conditioning until then. If any ice was available, it had to be brought from town, nearly 80km away, on the day.

Salads, ham, cold meats & seafood didn’t appear until Nan retired to the town in the late 70’s. Now they dominate the spread.

We make mincepies, there’s eggnog, we’ll have leg of lamb, roast chicken & a honey-glazed gammon with all the fixings and trifle after (family don’t like turkey, too dry, but fish doesn’t seem right, somehow). Was at the carols by candlelight in Kirstenbosch on Sunday.

Probably will go to the beach on Boxing Day, though.

What’s wrong with roast in the summertime? I do it all the time here. I presume there is air-conditioning.

In my family, we often have the mail meal on Christmas Day outdoors, because there are too many people to fit into the dining room. It’s hard to aircondition your backyard.

In South Africa, at least, there is not generally air-conditioning in homes.

I didn’t know that! Also, so it’s like a barbecue Christmas dinner? It does sound fun.

Here’s a picture of the table set for Christmas lunch 5 years ago. It’s actually in our neighbour’s backyard, because those invited included their family and ours, including a grandfather from each family, and some of my wife’s family who had travelled from Byron Bay, about 600 km north of Newcastle. There would have been about 20 people round the tables. Lunch was mostly cold meats and salads.

Newer houses may have airconditioning. Older ones usually won’t. My destination for this year’s Christmas doesn’t have any cooling, so I’m hoping for a mild Christmas Day. The forecast so far is for 25 degrees, which will be very pleasant.

My Australian friends tell me that Christmas has been adapted to local conditions; sometimes in a very bizzare manner. This is particularly with regard to some Christmas carols/songs.

For example, the traditional “Frosty The Snowman” has been replaced by “Six White Boomers”.

Apparently this relates to big white kangaroos and koalas hanging out at the beach after having dragged Santa’s sleigh around the world. Or something.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” has apparently been supplanted with a song about surfing at the beach with lots of women in very small bikinis with deep tans. Etc etc

Australians will tell you all sorts of things, as a kind of deadpan joke.

Six White Boomers is an old novelty song by Rolf Harris. The other one you describe probably exists too. But neither one is common, and they certainly don’t replace the well known Christmas songs in popular use.

You’ll hear Frosty the Snowman and White Christmas just as often here as anywhere else.