In Categories, How to Live the Good Life

christmas in australia jo castroThis dear Lifestylers, is my last post for 2013. It’s not a ‘Wrap’ of the year, because that’s happening over at my other blog, ZigaZag where Tastemaster Rich Keam who won one of the “Best Jobs in Australia” is also helping me out with his best 10 experiences this year.

For you my dear friends I first want to say a really big Thank You for joining me on this Fifty Something ride so far, and Thank You for taking the time to read and comment on the posts. Lifestyle Fifty is 6 months old, and already I’ve made so many new friends, and I’m already looking forward to meeting up with all of you again in 2014.

I’ll still be posting pictures to Facebook, and Instagram, and it would be great to see you on one of those networks over the Festive Season too.

Anyway, lots of you live in lands far away from our little corner of the world in South West Australia (which isn’t very difficult as we are so far from everywhere), so I thought the last post of the year would be about Christmas and traditions in this big island down under and some tips on how we create special moments during the holidays.

Why not tell us about your own traditions and celebrations in the comments section?

christmas in australia

Christmas in Australia.

I hope wherever you are, that you’re looking forward to Christmas, and that it will be filled with family, friends and great celebration. We’ll sadly be missing most of our family, who are in England, but together with our two grown up children we’ll have a quiet Christmas day and enjoy the seasonal spirit of love, hope and goodwill.

Take a chill pill!

In Australia Christmas is a time to chill, really chill. We might go to church, take a holiday or visit family and friends. Many businesses close down around the 2oth December, and don’t return to work until the 2nd January and it’s the time of long summer school holidays, so many families go away either for beach holidays or to visit family.

christmas in australia by jo castro

We might walk down to our nearby beach on Christmas day.  120 dolphins live, feed and play in the bay.

My family Christmases in England were all about keeping warm, roasting turkey in a wood stove, sitting drinking mulled wine by roaring log fires, and cold dark nights that crept in by 4pm in the afternoon, but here it’s very different.

In the Southern Hemisphere it’s all so different.

Southern Hemisphere traditions might include hot turkey and warm ham glazed with honey and mustard, but most probably they’ll both be served cold with salads for Christmas lunch.

We’ll be spending the day around the pool, cooking the ham and turkey for the evening, having a cocktail or two and probably in the heat of the afternoon we’ll go indoors and watch a holiday film like Love Actually or The Grinch and maybe pop to the beach late afternoon for a swim before dinner.

christmas in australia by jo castro Back in the day

When the first fleet of convicts arrived in Australia in 1788, there’s evidence to suggest that the convicts and their warders celebrated Christmas just as they’d done back in England. But hot meals on scorching hot days, days that can reach 41 degrees celsius in Western Australia, are just not on.

Nope, we’re not due any ice or snow any day soon in these sunburnt parts! So it becomes all about the beaches, where often we might be treated to a cool off shore breeze to cool us off.

Below are some beautiful beaches in Esperance, Australia’s Golden Outback. Now who wouldn’t like to spend Christmas day on one of these? If you click the link you can read more about Esperance on my Travel Blog, The ZigaZag Mag.

christmas in australia by jo castro Dress codes

Dress is generally casual, especially during the day when everyone is trying to stay cool.  Often it’s swimsuits and sarongs!

For night time celebrations though we may dress up a little, especially if we’re going out, and below because I know Lifestyle readers will be wondering what to wear on Christmas day, is a dress (from Marks and Spencers in the UK) that I wore lots last year … just as a strappy maxi  in the day, and dressed up a bit at night.

christmas in australia by jo castro

The most worn dress last Chrismas

Things you need to know about Christmas in Australia

December 1st – Yay it’s  officially summer! We all get just a little bit excited, but by the 25th things have well and truly heated up in Western Australia. We can expect very dry heat and temperatures from around 30 – 40 degrees celsius.

What do Aussies eat at Christmas?

Food is a big part of Aussie celebrations and due to the hot weather it’s very often cold food that’s served up.

Turkey, ham, chicken, pork are often pre-cooked, and salads, breads, and various pickles (many home made) are likely to be dished up too. Very often everyone will bring a dish, which helps with the catering.


Australian seafood is often served at Christmas, prawns sizzling on the barbie is a favourite. We also enjoy smoked salmon, calamari, reef fish, oysters, and in Western Australia, ‘marron’, a fresh water crayfish – though not all at once!

If we can we like to host a simple Christmas Eve get together and cook prawns, and reminisce with family and friends about the year gone by, or we might walk or drive around our suburb to view the Christmas lights that many people have put up. Many Australians will go to a midnight mass afterwards, others will go to Church on Christmas morning.

Roast Dinners

For us though, we still stick to our old Northern Hemisphere tradition of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and capers on wholewheat toast for breakfast with a glass of sparkling champagne, and have a Christmas dinner of glazed ham, roast turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas evening when it’s cooler.

Pudding love

Christmas pudding and Christmas cake are also part of our Christmas menu, and the pudding will be served with custard or ice cream, and depending on who’s with us, brandy butter too. Some families might serve up Pavlova for pud, and mince pies or Christmas fruit cake will generally be on the menu with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

When all’s done in the evening we’ll probably sit around the Christmas tree with a cup of tea,  and listen to Christmas carols and songs.

Presents and Santa Klaus

In England we used to have our family presents after lunch, although many people we knew would traditionally give gifts on Christmas eve. Father Christmas for us, would bring a stocking of small gifts, and leave it at the bottom of our bed for us to discover first thing in the morning.

In Australia children go to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that Santa or Father Christmas will be coming down the chimney in the night and leaving their pressies under the Christmas tree (not that there are that many chimneys in Australia!) A sncak will probably be left out for Father Christmas and his reindeers.

Christmas Trees

Pine Christmas trees might be put in a bucket of soil with rocks to hold them steady and then decorated in much the same way as trees all around the world. I’m afraid we’ve now resorted to a fake Christmas tree because it makes less mess, and we put it up on the 1st December each year – whereas a real tree (or branch) only lasts about 10 days.

christmas in australia by jo castro

This is a little shop in Karridale, South Western Australia, called Atelier, that just sells Christmas decorations (and jewellery) All Year Round!

Picnics and barbies

We live an outdoorsy life in Australia, and we love a picnic or barbie. Many Australians live near the beach, or at least within striking distance of a beach, which is very often the scene of Christmas day lunch and all day celebration. In the days after Christmas, many people take off and go camping.

christmas in australia by jo castro Tents are set up. Eskies with ice and lots of tasty food are carried from the car to long stretches of golden sand, with chairs, tables, umbrellas, windbreaks, towels and lots of sun screen. A cricket game or two is likely, and everyone gets into the spirit of things.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wherever you’re spending Christmas this year, I wish you a very Merry one with lots of spirit and goodwill heaped under your Christmas tree. Oh, did I mention lots of love too …

I hope Christmas day is very special for you.

Thank you for reading Lifestyle Fifty this year, and for all your lovely comments. It’s been wonderful getting to know you.

I’d love to know what you’re doing for Christmas this year, are you in Australia or elsewhere and do you have any special family traditions. Why not tell us in the comments?

Oh, thinking about your Christmasses around the world, I think I might just Google “Santa tracker” and find out which countries experience Christmas Day first!

I’ll be sending out a Christmas Newsletter this week filled with a dollop of inspiration and a little humour I hope. If you’d like to receive it, and be kept up to date on Lifestyle Fifty’s next posts, please just enter your email in the sign-up box below and hit ‘subscribe’.

Until next year,

Merry Christmas,



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Showing 12 comments
  • Reply

    Mmmm, love the food and the dress 🙂 Hope you had a great time. I do hot smoked salmon with salads and choc raspberry pudding – that’s the tradition in the Candy family for a decade or more now – the best bit is having loads of leftovers and not cooking for a few days afterwards.

    • Johanna

      that’s the best bit, hey Annabel … A big food sigh after all the cooking;)

  • Antionette Blake

    I trust you have a wonderful Christmas and wishing you a blessed and prosperous New Year.

    • Johanna

      Thank you Antionette! And all the very best to you too, today, tomorrow and in 2014. Thanks for following Lifestyle Fifty this year 🙂

  • Neva Fels

    Your post had so many interesting things to learn and enjoy about life in sunny Australia. We’re skiers so we’re looking forward to hitting the slopes this winter in Utah.

    • Johanna

      Can’t wait to see some pics of you hitting the ski slopes via your blog, Neva! I was a ‘fall-over-and-laugh-hysterically-or-sometimes-cry’ skier on a few holidays in Europe when the kids were little, so I admire someone who get out there often!

  • Kathy Marris

    Spot on with the Australian take on Christmas. We have to make alterations to accommodate the hot weather we experience here. I will be spending the day at my brother’s place on his verandah and maybe a game of cricket afterwards and a refreshing swim in his pool. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year. Looking forward to reading your blogs in 2014.

    • Johanna

      Sounds like you have a lovely day planned Kathy! Thank you for your support this year, and all your lovely comments. A big wondrous Merry Christmas to you and yours too, and I also look forward to reading your posts next year too 🙂

  • Life Images by Jill

    Happy Christmas Jo to you and yours, and to Lifestyle 50’ers! I can’t believe Lifestyle 50 has been going for 6 months. What a wonderful start you have made Jo – it’s obvious that there are lots of ladies out there enjoying your blog and the stories you bring to us each week. I wish you many many more years of happy Lifestyle 50.
    As for us at Christmas – we do the traditional hot roast thing. I still vividly remember my Mum and my Aunts cooking Christmas dinner on a wood stove in 30Cplus (100F +) temperatures – it must have been over 40 degrees in the kitchen at least! And that is where we ate too! Madness.
    However to me Christmas is not cold meat and salad – it is roast dinner and pudding! I finally got some Christmas baking done last Monday. There are some pics on my blog with you want to take a peek!
    Happy Christmas Jo to you and all Lifestyle 50 readers. Looking forward to more in 2014.

    • Johanna

      Merry Christmas to you Jill and thank you for your kind greetings, encouragement, comments and insight into your own Christmas traditions 🙂 See you in 2014 🙂

  • Fair, Fake and Fifty

    What a lovely long and extremely interesting post. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I really enjoyed looking at all your pictures. Love Christmas in the sun.

    • Johanna

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas!

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