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Christmas Traditions in Australia
Australians live on the world's largest island, which is also the world's smallest continent. Most of Australia's immigrants came from England and Ireland, bringing their Christmas customs with them.
Australia is the Land Down Under, where the seasons are opposite to ours. When Australians celebrate Christmas on December 25, it is during summer vacation. Most of Australia is a hot, dry desert, known as the Outback. The grassy or marshy savannas are called the Bush. But most people in Australia live in the green coastal areas of the southwest.
The most popular event of the Christmas season is called Carols by Candlelight. People come together at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols outside.
Australian families love to do things outside. They love to swim, surf, sail, and ride bicycles. They like to grill meals outdoors on the barbecue, which they call the "barbie."
Families decorate their homes with ferns, palm leaves, and evergreens, along with the colorful flowers that bloom in summer called Christmas bush and Christmas bellflower. Some families put up a Christmas tree.
On Christmas Eve, families attend church together. Some children expect Father Christmas to leave gifts, and others wait for Santa Claus to visit and deliver gifts.
On Christmas Eve in families that observe Irish traditions, the father sets a large candle in a front window of the home to welcome Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. The youngest child in the family lights the candle.
Christmas Day is when families and close friends gather together from all over Australia. The highlight of the day is the holiday midday dinner.
Many families even go to the beach or to the countryside and enjoy a picnic of cold turkey or ham and a salad. Father Christmas has been known to show up in shorts to greet children at the beach on Christmas!
The day after Christmas, December 26, is Boxing Day. Australians with British and Irish backgrounds leave tips for the grocer, postman, newspaper carrier, and others to thank them for their help in the past year.
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