How do they celebrate Christmas in Australia?

This is a guest post from Ian Middleton.

I live in Sydney, and have had the last 5 Xmases here.

Pre Xmas, there are all the usual festivities, although Cities tend not to put up lights, just massive artificial trees. We attend carols by candlelight, which attracts thousands at the big shows, and is outdoors in both Sydney and Melbourne. We attend in our suburb, and we take a picnic and wine, and sit down by the harbour and have a lovely evening.

On the day itself, we are usually up at 5:30, because the sun is beaming through the window. Then a coffee, and down to the beach for a Xmas day dip! Tradition! All the surfers do wear Santa outfits whilst surfing, or the bodies beautiful wear Santa swim shorts or bikinis!

Presents opening in the morning……

Lunch is a mixed bag! Turkey is still a tradition for many, and the supermarkets stock sprouts!! There is stuffing mix and cranberry sauce, brandy custard etc. although many do opt for seafood for at least part of lunch! They buy prawns by the box load, and Sydney fish market is a nightmare a couple of days before……..

Then it’s all about family, and there are many phone calls in the early evening to loved ones in Europe, as their day begins!!!

I have to say, it has rained every Xmas Day I have been here! About 4 the clouds roll in and it cools down a bit etc.

Boxing Day here is famous for 2 things: The Boxing Day Test in Melbourne (100,000 people watching cricket) and the Sydney- Hobart yacht race!!

Then everyone is on holiday until after new Year – massive here in Sydney with 1m plus people Harbourside and alcohol free for fireworks – which are spectacular!!!!

How do they celebrate Christmas in Canada?

Many thanks to Karen Percy for today’s guest post.

There are a lot of similar Christmas traditions between Canada and the UK. To get ready for the big event, we’ll put up the tree we just bought from a Christmas tree farm, or better yet, cut one down ourselves at the U-Cut. Almost every house on the block will be covered with lights from top to bottom and you may hear carollers in the street. Christmas Eve, some will attend a church service and, once home, the kids will be giddy and excited, with some being allowed to open just one gift before bedtime. They leave out cookies that mom baked for a cookie exchange or at a cookie-baking party and milk for Santa with a side of carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas morning, the kids are up early, typically opening stocking gifts first with presents to follow. After all has been opened, a breakfast or brunch of eggs, bacon (here called streaky bacon), waffles, and/or pancakes or, our favourite, Christmas Morning Wifesaver will be enjoyed.

Playtime and dinner preparation fill the rest of the day until it’s time for dinner. As in the UK, we all end up with a belly full of turkey smothered in cranberry sauce, mashed potato, and green beans. Christmas dinner will be eaten either on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day, (or all three if you’ve got lots of family to visit). You’ll also find stuffing at our tables, but not the pork-sage-bread crumb ball kind. Instead, you’ll find Canadian turkeys traditionally stuffed with a cubed bread-celery-sage type stuffing. Loads of rich, thick gravy will be poured on top. For pre-dinner drinks, you’ll find adults sipping glasses full of rum and eggnog as they admire the gingerbread houses carefully decorated by the kids. And you won’t find mince pies, Christmas pudding or fruit cake for dessert on Canadian tables. Rather, we opt for plates showcasing a variety of goodies like nanaimo bars, sugar cookies, molasses cookies, and lemon bars, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find Cornflake Candy Cane Ice Cream, a concoction of candy cane ice cream covered with a mixture of Cornflakes, brown sugar, nuts, butter and coconut. While not traditional, it has been a family favourite in our house for years.

The rest of the time is spent with family and friends, with some holding an Open House where loved ones can just drop in throughout the day. In our neighbourhood, we would take the party from one house to the next, each house serving different food and tasty cocktails whilst the kids are at home enjoying their new toys, babysat by one of the local older kids who make a fortune for the happy party parents upon collection. Boxing Day is a different story. It’s similar to Black Friday in the States where products are heavily discounted. Some camp out and wait for hours for the stores to open so they can get the best deals.

You can find Karen at Kaper Creative

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How do they celebrate Christmas in Greece?

This is a guest post from Andrea Michael of Olive Translations.

If there’s one thing the Greeks know how to do it’s celebrate an event in style and Christmas is no exception.

The festivities begin before Christmas on 6th December (St Nicolas’ Day ) when children roam the streets with drums and triangles singing carols or ‘kalanda’ as they’re called in Greek. These carols have been handed down from generation to generation from Byzantine times.

Going from door to door, it’s a nice way to sing carols and children earn a few Euros (which in this economic climate is no bad thing!)

Greece being a Christian country, tradition and religion dictate many of the events that take place and Christmas is no exception. There is no doubt that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus.

On Christmas Eve, a bread called ‘Christopsomo’, literally ‘Christ Bread’ is homemade and a sign of the cross is imprinted before it goes in the oven. On Christmas Day, the bread is sliced and each piece is given to a family member.

Christmas Day itself is usually spent in church in the morning then home for lunch with the family. Whilst turkey can be bought at supermarkets due to the influx of tourists, most families will have a leg of lamb or pork roasting on a barbeque spit cooking for hours. This is usually served with a traditional ‘spanakopita’ or spinach-cheese pie and lots of vegetables and rice.

For dessert there are two varieties of cakes ‘melomakarouna’ and ‘kourapiedes’ which are normally baked in large quantities. ‘Melomakarouna’  are semolina, cinnamon biscuits covered in honey, and ‘kourapiedes’ are rosewater and butter cookies coated with powdered sugar that are normally served on New Year’s but are often eaten earlier as they are too good to resist!

All this good food makes for partying and it’s not uncommon for music to be blaring all night long whilst everybody dances around their houses and into the street with neighbours joining in just for fun.

Gifts are not actually exchanged on Christmas Day, but are given on 1st January. Things then wind down but not before the Epiphany on 6th January. This is the date the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Jesus’ baptism when he was a man.

The Epiphany is also known as ‘The Blessing of the Waters’. All over Greece, priests throw a cross which he has blessed into the sea ( or lake or river) and the male members of the family will dive into the freezing waters to be the first to get the cross. Whoever comes out first holding the cross is said to have good luck in the coming year.

If you happen to be in Greece and want to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ it’s ‘Kala Christouyenna!’.

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Many thanks again to Andrea for this guest post.  Olive Translations, based in Birmingham, is a translation company with a difference. Certified to the highest European Translation Standard, EN 15038 and with an ISO 9001:2008 Certified Quality Management System in place, when we say Quality; we mean it. Let us be your Partner for the provision of serious, quality translations and we can work together to tailor make a service and price that’s right for you. For a quote please email: