Christmas in Australia

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For anyone expecting Santa to arrive in a sledge, you'll be disappointed - Christmas in Australia is a different affair.

If you are used to white snow, cold weather and buying a fresh cut fir tree, forget all that.

There are not too many fir trees around.

It is more an artificial tree or...

...when the organisers are creative, a fancy one made of recycled bottles of various shapes and colours.

The one in the image below was set up in the The Rocks in Sydney. So much better for the environment.

christmas tree in The Rocks Sydney

Open your mind to a new experience. It is a holiday season but not just a short break over a week. Christmas in Australia is the big summer holiday.

Imagine a beautiful, sunny morning, with light blue skies. Your family gathers around the richly decorated tree to open all the gift boxes and bags.

christmas decorations display david jones sydney

The David Jones store in Sydney recreates the family mood every year with lovely puppets in its windows. If you want to see the real thing and enjoy the spirit of the season head to store, watch the puppets move and listen to the jingle.

australian christmas decorations in david jones store sydney 2010

After you're done with the gifts, imagine a big feast but not indoors and not necessarily for dinner. It is for lunchtime and happens on the beach, in the park or on the deck of your home. And it happens on the Christmas day rather than on the Eve.

Lunch comes with prawns and lobster, as the famous Crocodile Dundee, Australian actor, Paul Hogan was recommending in his "throw another shrimp on the barbie" ad.

north curl curl beach

A day at the beach is an all time favourite during the festive season. There is no Christmas in Australia without a good splash of water. If it is not the beach then it is the backyard pool.

Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake?

The Australian Christmas treat also includes the traditional ham, roast turkey or crackling pork. It culminates with either Christmas pudding or the fruit cake:

  • both have dried fruit, eggs, flour, sugar and treacle as ingredients,
  • both require fruit to be marinated with muscat or port for 2 - 3 days in the fridge, and
  • both need a week to mature before serving.

So, what's difference between the two then?

Glad you asked:

  • The marinated fruit pudding mixture is rubbed together with milk, eggs, butter flour and breadcrumbs and is steamed for at least 5 hours,
  • while the fruit cake doesn't need any milk or breadcrumbs and is baked in the oven for about 3 hours.

Christmas fruit cake

Christmas Fruit Cake - Photo courtesy of Sailor Coruscant

Once matured in the fridge, one week later, the fruit cake is dressed with icing sugar and can be decorated with stars, Santa or reindeer, or simply with a nice, festive ribbon.
There's more work to do with the Chrissie pudding - you have to reheat it in the steaming basin again for 1 hour before serving.

Eat it with custard. For a great finish warm some brandy, light it and pour it over the desert and, voila, you have a pudding flambe.

For those with time on their hands and great passion for cooking, making the cakes for the family is a wonderful experience but, for the rest of us, the shops offer an easy alternative. It will never be the same as making your own, but good enough to enjoy it for the Christmas lunch or dinner.

Enjoy the silly season!

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