Australian Holiday Traditions–Christmas and Beyond

Australian Holiday Traditions–Christmas and Beyond

sydney opera house australia

Posted December 6, 2023

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Australia is an extremely beautiful place; boasting some of the most amazing blessings of mother nature and a landscape that not many places in the world have, Australia is a stunner.

But you know what makes Australia even more amazing? Unique traditions you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The media rarely portrays these cultural and unique Australian holiday traditions, so why not read about them?

If you’re the least bit curious about what goes on during the holiday season in the Land Down Under, keep scrolling and find out!

1. There’s Always a Nice BBQ On

December in Australia is summertime, which means there’s no white snow day or hot cocoas for Christmas. Instead, there are plenty of barbecues. Aussies love a good barbecue, and you’ll find a couple of aromatic meats roasting away during the holiday season.

From roasting up ‘roos to searing prawns, Australians celebrate Christmas and other holidays by firing up a barbecue grill like Americans on the 4th of July.

barbeque shrimp

2. Christmas Sand

You might be used to a dramatic snow day right before Christmas Eve, but there’s no such thing in Australia. Christmas falls in the Australian summer when the sun is at its peak and the waves are heavily crashing against the shore.

We all know Aussies love a good time at the beach, so many families celebrate Xmas by grabbing a surfboard and riding the waves. The beach is practically Australia’s staple; not many can survive without visiting the beach at least once or twice a month.

The families who don’t go to the beach still make the trip the next day (Boxing Day) or right before December 25, and you bet they’re enjoying the sandy shores like every other day!


3. Pass the Prawns

Let’s admit it, the second best part about Christmas (after the presents) is the food. There’s something quite appetizing about having a roasted chicken/turkey basted in aromatic spices and glazed with a side of mashed potatoes and a pitcher of eggnog; but surprisingly, Australia’s got its own version of a Christmas Dinner.

You see, being so close to the shore brings a delicious benefit: fresh seafood, and Australia isn’t willing to let go of this opportunity.

In addition to the aforementioned BBQ, a typical Christmas dinner in Australia will have a massive roast along with an equally enormous serving of prawns. From prawn and shrimp cocktails to roasts and seafood platters, Australians will serve every variation of seafood.


4. Pub Hopping on Christmas Eve

Many of us celebrate Xmas eve by huddling around the family, sipping hot cocoa, and singing carols. But Australians have a much more fun way of going about Christmas Eve.

Aussies hit the bars and pubs all around town on Christmas Eve. Holidaymakers of all ages will pub hop until the wee hours of the morning and make it home in time to have a quick nap before opening the presents.

5. Christmas Has No Snow, But Carols Do

Not all Australian cities experience snow, so foreigners don’t expect to hear much about snow. But even though Australians celebrate Xmas differently, there are some American traditions they keep up with, including singing carols about snow.


6. Thanksgiving is Selective

Not all fun Australian holiday traditions are about Christmas; Australia celebrates its fair share of events and traditions, some of which are exclusive to the country.

We all know Thanksgiving is an American holiday, so Australians celebrating it wouldn’t make much sense. But did you know the inhabitants of an Australian island are the only ones who celebrate thanksgiving?

The inhabitants of Norfolk Island celebrate thanksgiving as an homage to Isaac Robinson, a Norfolk Island inhabitant who became a diplomatic representative of the U.S. and wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving. The people of Norfolk decided to continue his tradition after his death.

What’s even more amazing is that while many wouldn’t think Norfolk had a connection to the United States, this dainty little island constantly catered to American seafarers and has viewed them with admiration and respect ever since.

7. Pavlova for Dessert

Pavlova is a popular Australian dessert famous worldwide for its light creamy texture and crisp crust. It has a delicious meringue-base and is an extremely technical dish to make, yet you’ll find it commonly served on all major events, including holidays.

In fact, celebrating Christmas in Australia without pavlova is like celebrating Thanksgiving without a turkey dinner!

Pavlova mixed berry dessert in australia

8. States Have Different Labor Days

Australians celebrate Labor Day the same as Americans, but there’s a surprising twist nobody expected. While Americans celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September, Australians have their own rules for the holiday.

Instead of the entire nation celebrating Labor Day on one selected day, each state gets to decide when its holiday will be!

So, New South Wales, South Australia, and the Australian State Territory celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in October. Interestingly, Queensland used to celebrate on the first Monday in May but switched to October in 2012. After 4 years, Queensland switched back to celebrating Labor Day on the first Monday in May! Tasmania celebrates its Labor Day on the second Monday in March, and so does

Victoria. And Western Australia celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of March. Funnily, Labor Day is called May Day in the Northern Territory and Eight Hours’ Day in Tasmania.

How weird is that?

Two-up is an Australian betting game where one player tosses a spinner with two coins embedded in it, while the other bets on whether the coins land face down, face up, or each separate way.

Sounds interesting right?

But what’s more intriguing is that Two-up isn’t exactly legal. But then again, it’s not illegal either.

You see, Australian states have different laws about Two-up since it’s a very controversial game.

For example, Aussies in New South Wales can play Two-up on any celebratory holiday or event.

But in Victoria, Australians will have to wait for Anzac Day to play Two-up, or else they’re in for an awkward situation with the police!

Two-up set. Game in Australia.
Two-up set photo is licensed under CC 4.0.

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