Exchanging gifts, decorating a tree and being good for Santa are some of the popular traditions Aussies embrace at Christmas time.
As is the custom in the US ands UK, we listen to carols, delight in Nativity scenes which tell the story of the birth of Jesus and send cards to friends and family.
Even though Christmas in Australia is usually hot and humid and thoughts turn to the beach or a pool, it is still the norm to incorporate wintery, snowy scenes and symbols into our celebrations, reflecting the weather on the other side of the globe.
Our Christmas Day lunch also gains inspiration from the northern hemisphere, with ham, roast turkey or chicken and roast vegetables shared, followed by mince pies and plum pudding with brandy butter.
However, lighter lunches featuring salads, seafood and a pavlova for dessert are also popular.
Christmas in Australia coincides with the end of the school year, which means the festive season also represents seemingly endless weeks of summer holiday fun for families, with many businesses also slowing down at this time.
But there are many other ways the birth of Jesus is celebrated around the world,The Golden Ox has discovered.
The Philippines enjoy the world’s longest Christmas season, with carols heard as early as September 1. Christmas Eve is celebrated with Midnight Mass and a feast of cheese, hot chocolate, ham, chicken or turkey, pasta and desserts and fruit salad is shared straight after.
In El Salvador, children celebrate by playing with firecrackers and sparklers.Traditional Christmas dishes here are sauteed turkey sandwiches in a baguette with lettuce and radishes, tamales and sweet bread for dessert. Drinks include hot chocolate and pineapple juice. Gifts are opened at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Festivities in Colombia start on December 7, the Day of the Candles.At night, streets, balconies and driveways are decorated with candles and paper lanterns, which light up cities and towns to honour the Immaculate Conception on the next day.
In Slovakia, before eating, people exchange Christmas greetings by sharing a piece of wafer with honey and walnuts.Traditional dinner depends on region but a common Christmas dinner is cabbage or lentil soup and crumbed roasted carp with homemade potato salad or handmade gnocchi. Gifts are placed under the Christmas tree usually just before or during dinner. Children have to wait until a bell is rung at the end of dinner to run for the presents. Other Slovak Christmas traditions involve predictions for the future. Apples are always cut crosswise and if a perfect star appears in the core, the next year will be successful. A distorted star means a bad year or illness while a cross may suggest death. Girls throw shoes over their shoulders and if the toe points to the door, the girl will get married soon.
And in the weeks leading up to Christmas in Estonia, children place a slipper near their windows and receive a sweet from “visiting elves’’. Christmas here is celebrated on December 24. Estonians leave the leftover food from Christmas dinner on the table overnight,hoping the spirits of family, friends and loved ones will visit and have something to eat. It is also customary to visit graveyards and leave candles for the deceased.
However you celebrate the festive season, Nick, Virginia, Peter and the rest of the team at The Golden Ox wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.