All you need to know about Christmas in the Southern hemisphere


All you need to know about Christmas in the Southern hemisphere

We all associate Christmas with snow and freezing temperatures. We don’t feel it is Christmas when it doesn’t snow and most kids will add some large snowflakes on their Christmas drawing or letter to Santa. But the world is a diverse place and what is familiar to one can be unusual to other. This is also the case with Christmas – if you find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere on December 25, things will look completely different from what you usually see on traditional Christmas cards. Here’s what you should know about the way Christmas is celebrated between the Equator and the South Pole:

You may not feel very Christmassy

Sunny Christmas

Imagine temperatures over 35, long sunny days, summer holiday time, and spending lots of time outdoors. People from the Northern Hemisphere definitely are entitled to feel weird. The reason why traditional Christmas is celebrated like this is to shed some light on the dark winter months through candles, cosy fires, and house lights. Whether you are celebrating the birth of Christ or you are less religious and think more about spending time with friends and having feasts, Christmas traditionally falls at winter to make it easier to get through the cold bad weather. In the Southern Hemisphere you’ll have to remember to apply your sunscreen instead.

Customs are similar

Everything is pretty much the same in the Southern Hemisphere, except for the hot weather and green vegetation: people sing carols, houses and public places are decorated with Christmas trees, and children wait for Santa Claus to come visit them. On Christmas Day friends and family exchange gifts and have a Christmas feast.

Meats are served in the Southern Hemisphere as well

christmas decoration

Australians serve turkey and ham along with seafood and salads. Brazilians cook turkey, but they do it in a different manner from Americans – they marinate it in cachaça (liquor made from sugar cane) or in champagne. The stuffing is usually made from fruit and toasted manioc. On the other hand, Argentinians prepare niños envueltos (literally meaning children in a blanket) – mixture of minced beef and rice wrapped in cabbage. South Africans stick to the traditional barbecue even on Christmas and sometimes give it a twist by having a sausage called boerewors. Other Christmas foods on the African continent include chicken with piri-piri sauce, eaten in Mozambique.

Eating cold food

Although many Christmas dishes in the Southern Hemisphere are inspired by traditional foods, most of the food is cold because the temperatures are too hot for a traditional Christmas feast. Just a few items are served hot, and the food is usually associated with refreshing drinks, such as beer, cocktails, or sparkling wine.

People go to the beach

Sea shore

On Christmas Day, beaches are usually packed in the Southern Hemisphere. Here it’s not Christmas Day if you’re not going to the beach. Santa probably needs a different suit here. Even tourists do the same and if you are in Sidney at Christmas time you definitely need to go to the Bondi Beach, where around 40,000 people come on Christmas Day.

The indigenous culture is integrated into Christmas celebrations

Tribal dance

Since their arrival in Australia, Europeans would pick wild flowers looking like bells and green foliage to create Christmas decorations. It was even more exciting than spending Christmas at home, where trees were bare and you couldn’t find any flowers. Today, the indigenous culture continues to influence modern Christmas celebrations.

Santa still gets a treat

But with a different flavour. In Australia, aside from the traditional milk and cookies, Santa will also find a vegemite sandwich, and the reindeer will be offered a carrot.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

Keen on the traditional Christmas atmosphere, people in the Southern Hemisphere have thought about celebrating Christmas in July, when it’s winter in their home countries. This phenomenon dates from the late 1970s to the early 1980s can be seen in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Argentina, Comoros, Angola, Madagascar, Bolivia, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and Samoa. Although these countries celebrate what is also called Midwinter Christmas, they still observe Christmas on December 25, like the rest of the world. So, you can’t say anymore you celebrate Christmas just once a year. However, it is seen as an additional holiday and not everybody is celebrating it, although its popularity has been growing in the last years. At least, this way people in the Southern Hemisphere can enjoy warm drinks in front of the fireplace as well while waiting for Santa.

Regardless of where you spend Christmas and of the number of degrees displayed by the thermometer, the essence of this holiday stays the same: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with your loved ones. The Christmas tree is always part of the background and traditional dishes are served, although personalized with local ingredients. So, are you tempted by spending Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere?

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