Dreaming of a white Christmas: UK vs Australia

As we head towards the festive season, it's hard not to start planning ahead and getting excited for the Christmas period. Candidates across our Unitemps branches in the UK and Australia will be enjoying very different Christmas traditions over the holidays. Just as our UK candidates may not be aware of how Christmas is done on the Gold Coast in Australia, candidates at our branches at Griffith University and La Trobe University may have a preconceived idea of how we do things in the UK. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the idyllic white Christmas just doesn't happen in Australia while, in more recent times, the UK has adopted a few new traditions that people abroad may not know about. So, we have put together a handy guide to Christmas in Australia and the UK for you to imagine how people celebrate Christmas on the other side of the world. 

UK 

  • Christmas trees 

It is not Christmas in the UK without a decorated tree, adorned with baubles and fairy lights to add some sparkle to dark nights. Did you know that Christmas trees first became popular when Prince Albert, who was German, wanted to bring one of his Christmas traditions to England?

  • Lights switch-on 

The day that your local town’s Christmas lights are switched on is effectively the beginning of the countdown to Christmas day. These events are often the prompt people need to start their Christmas shopping as the shops stay open long into the evening and people enjoy a parade, funfair, or market. In recent years, traditional German markets have become very popular in UK cities, giving families and friends a reason to venture out into the cold on an evening to enjoy a mulled wine, hot chocolate and live music.

  • Battle of the Christmas adverts 

Audiences wait with baited breath as the major retailers go head-to-head with each other for the best Christmas-themed television advert.  

In recent years, adverts that had a big impact on audiences were John Lewis’ 'The Long Wait' in 2011, Sainsbury’s 'Christmas is for Sharing' in 2014, and Irn-Bru’s Snowman advert from 2007. As competition increases, so do the production values and hype surrounding the adverts, making Christmas time a huge PR opportunity for retailers.  

Who will be deemed the winner in 2017? 

  • The Queen's Speech 

Just as we are falling asleep on the sofa post-Christmas dinner, we are treated to a rare speech made by the Queen every year at mid-afternoon on Christmas day. Her speeches are known for their ability to reflect on the events of the past year. The Queen's speech in 2016, for example, celebrated the achievements of British athletes in Rio's Olympic games, the 40th and 60th anniversaries of the Princes Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh organisations, and encouraged us to 'do small things with great love', in  a speech that is inspirational, while making the original message of Christmas relevant to the world today. 

Australia 

  • The beach 

For those used to the ‘cosy’ feel of a UK Christmas, it might come as a surprise that many Australians venture outdoors to celebrate Christmas, opting to spend the day at the beach. Bondi Beach in Sydney has become the place to go for international visitors on Christmas day. 

  • Ditch the Christmas dinner 

Christmas time comes at the beginning of summer in Australia and so a traditional roast dinner is not always the first choice for dinner on Christmas day. Cold meats, seafood and salads are popular and Pavlova and a festive ice cream pudding might be served up for dessert.  

  • 'Unique' carols 

Think that the UK has naff Christmas songs? Australia, it seems, have their very own collection of cheesy Christmas songs, including Colin Buchanan’s Aussie Jingle Bells and the Australian Twelve Days of Christmas. Carol by Candlelight services bring together local bands and choirs performing Christmas songs with a difference – due to the hot climate in Australian over Christmas, the words to the carols referring to snow and the cold winter are changed to uniquely Australian words.  

  • Christmas front-of-house extravaganzas 

It seems Australians take decorating their homes during the holidays quite seriously, with whole streets organising flamboyant displays of festivity that attract visitors. The locations of the brightly lit streets even make the local paper!

Unitemps wish all of our candidates a happy Christmas and happy new year!