Everything you need to know about Christmas in July in Australia
Australia is often referred to as the ‘lucky’ country.
A country blessed with stunning landscapes that captivate the imagination, an agreeable climate allowing for outdoor exploration in wide open spaces and unique wildlife – Australia’s flora and fauna is exceptional. Add to this the laid-back disposition and friendly outlook Aussies have, there's plenty to like about living in Australia.
And another reason we love Australia? We get to celebrate Christmas not once, but twice a year!
However, we cannot lay claim to this tradition of celebrating two festive seasons as being exclusively Australian. Also known as Yulefest or Yuletide, Christmas in July is observed in other countries around the world. But like the Koala, Fraser Island and the chicken parmigiana, Australians like to think their Christmas in July is something special.
And it is.
Why Australians celebrate Christmas in July
Australia is a multicultural country. There are many Aussies with European or British heritage who enjoy everything associated with a ‘traditional’ Christmas including that ‘wintry’ feeling. Even fourth generation Aussies, influenced by movies portraying Christmas in a cold country, seek the traditions associated with the northern hemisphere climate. Where Christmas trees are genuine firs (with pine needles that fall on the floor) not the fake plastic variety hauled from the storage box, where carollers singing Christmas carols on street corners are dressed in warm winter gear, not cotton shorts and T-shirts. And when gathering around a warm fire drinking mulled wine is not considered outrageous (or crazy.)
Of course, the traditional time to celebrate Christmas is December. And that falls right in the middle of the Australian summer. It is HOT! There are no frosted windows from the cold outside air, nor any snowman in sight because there simply isn't snow in Australia in December (except for maybe on the top of Tasmania’s Mt Wellington.)
In many parts of our country, Christmas day is so warm it often includes a swim in the pool, or a dip in the ocean to bring down the core body temperature and make the kids happy. For those lucky enough to be in an air-conditioned room, Christmas dinner is enjoyed in a space regulated at a comfortable temperature.
On Christmas Day, it’s rare to find a household serving hot roast turkey and warm plum puddings. These traditional Christmas delights are off the menu, replaced by cold smoked ham, prawns and an assortment of chilled salads pulled from the fridge.
Many families dream of a wintery Christmas, where beautifully set tables are crammed with a vast selection of scrumptious ‘hot’ food, from roasted turkey with stuffing, glazed ham, roasted vegetables, followed by dessert, an indulgent Pudding and sauce.
By choosing to celebrate Christmas in July, where temperatures in some places in Aus mimic the winter ‘feels’ of the northern hemisphere, Australian Christmas traditionalists can experience an (almost) white Christmas.
Why Australians celebrate Christmas in July and not June
Mid-winter is traditionally the time to celebrate Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere. The first of June heralds winter in Australia. Temperatures start to climb, but it's not until July that temperatures meet their lowest point and the winter chill really sets in.
Australian school holidays vary within a week or so for each Australian State and Territory, but in general they fall at the end of June and run into July. For families with school aged children this provides an opportunity to include a Christmas celebration during school holidays.
And June 30 marks the end of the financial year in Australia - that’s reason enough to celebrate!
Which date should you choose to celebrate Christmas in July
Because Christmas in July is technically not ‘declared’ a Public Holiday, there is no ‘set’ date to celebrate, but traditionally folks prefer to celebrate as close as possible to the 25th. And if the 25th falls on the weekend, it's the perfect time to plan for either a Christmas eve dinner or a long lunch on Christmas day. If the 25th falls during the week, either push celebrations out to the weekend before, or after.
Remember, Christmas in July is all about catching up with as many friends and family as possible. So be as flexible as possible.
What Christmas in July party should you choose
There is no compulsion to select a sit-down dinner. The options are endless: an informal gathering around a campfire, a cocktail event where mulled wine and hot toddies are on the list, or a street party where neighbours nominate a place to congregate.
Why we should celebrate Christmas in July
For those who celebrate Christmas, choosing to have a double festive celebration in both July as well as December provides the perfect excuse to spend quality time with loved ones. To eat, drink and find the merriment in life.December will always be the time of the year dedicated to Yuletide festivities, and in Australia, Christmas day and the day after (Boxing Day) are declared public holidays. But if you’re hankering for some mid-year cheer, July is the perfect time. And, you will have the elusive wintery climate to enhance the experience!
But beyond that Australians love any excuse to get together and celebrate.
Why not have it both ways?
12 Reasons to celebrate Christmas in July
If you are a checklist person who prefers a quick list over a story, here’s 12 reasons why you should celebrate Christmas in July:
- For most households July is less busy than December
- Mulled wine is totally doable (or hot chocolate for those who prefer non-alcoholic)
- You can select a real tree and decorate it with the baubles that normally only come out once a year
- Silly Christmas jumpers can be worn (comfortably) in July (a trend made famous by Mark Darcy aka Colin Firth in the movie Bridget Jones Diary)
- Roasting marshmallows on an open fire is awesome in July, especially when dipped in the Pudding Lady’s spoonable chocolate sauce (after roasting)
- Dad or Grandpa can comfortably wear a Santa suit without the possibility of passing out from heat exhaustion
- Enjoy the Christmas decorations that only see the light of day once a year
- The perfect excuse to enjoy your favourite plum pudding twice a year
- Your social calendar is likely to be freer with not so many end of year parties booked
- School holidays fall in July (not always on the 25th) get the ‘bored’ kids off their devices and involved with decorating and baking
- Warm puddings always taste better when it's cold outside
- A Christmas movie marathon involves snuggling up around the couches to keep warm (not telling someone to move away because you are too hot.)
Tips for a stress-free Christmas in July dinner party
In the lead-up to Christmas in July here’s a couple of pre-planning things to consider
- Send invitations out early
Inviting someone for Christmas in July (in-laws, other family members, or friends) remember to leave enough time for them to get back to you as they may have to confer with others first. And if they cannot make it, remember life is busy for everyone (and that means more pudding for you!)
- Dietary requirements
For anyone joining you that you haven't entertained before or seen in a while, check if they have any dietary requirements so they’re catered for and feel included. We don't want anyone to leave the party feeling hungry.
- Table Setting
The basic rules do not vary when laying the table. Make sure it is done prior to guests arriving. Setting the table the day before takes the stress out of the day. Give each person as much elbow-room as the table permits, leaving an even amount of space between places. Knives and spoons go on the right, forks on the left. When eating, always start from your outer cutlery and work in (outer - entree, working your way into dessert) Simple! More table setting tips.