Being an expat in a hot country at Christmas-time where your seasons are the opposite to back home, makes it even harder than living in a country where your weather is on-schedule with your home seasons. While all your friends are enjoying summer and European city breaks, you’re huddled in your dressing gown with the wind howling through the house due to the lack of insulation. While you’re on the beach and sweating through 35 degree C days, your friends are buying Christmas trees, eating mince pies and roast dinners, and getting all the festive feels.
I’ve had a few Christmas’s in Australia now, and each time I’ve gradually come up with more things to help make it feel a little more Christmassy. Because I’m gonna be honest, it really doesn’t feel like Christmas here in Australia. In fact, I have *never* felt like it’s Christmas here, and I’ve always found it a bit weird, and this year I’m going back to London (via NYC) to get my ‘proper’ Christmas fix.
But anyway, here are the ways I help make things feel a little more festive and a little less like it’s July in the Southern Hemisphere…
Go to a carol concert
Last year Sydney held a series of carol concerts in the city, and I loved walking around after work, listening to them while they stood under the big Christmas tree in St Martin’s Place. It brought a smile to my face and made me feel just a little more Christmassy, despite it being 28 degrees C.
Find a cafe that sells mince pies
I had a breakdown last Christmas as I couldn’t find a cafe near my work in Surry Hills who sold mince pies. I think I was in the seventh cafe that day searching for one, and when they responded with “No, why would we sell mince pies?!” I pretty much shouted emotionally “BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS.” Lolz. Awks. Thankfully I found a cafe just round the corner from my office that sold homemade ones, why I didn’t go there in the first place I don’t know.
Go to a pub and eat a roast dinner, or pie and mash
Australia has a surprising amount of pubs (called ‘hotels’ here, for example the “Strawberry Hills Hotel” instead of just “Strawberry Hills”), and there are a few that actually do a decent roast dinner (with Yorkshire puddings and all), and one in particular (Dove & Olive in Surry Hills) does an amazing pie and mash. Sitting in a pub eating pie and mash definitely makes things feel a bit more festive and wintery…except for when you step back outside again into the heat.
Start listening to Christmas music early
It’s end of October and yes, I have already started listening to Christmas music. One of my favourite things about Christmas is the lead up and excitement that builds in the weeks before the actual day. Usually I don’t start listening to Christmas music until beginning of December, but I’ve found starting earlier helps me get into that festive spirit rather than feeling like it suddenly crept up on me out of nowhere.
Send Christmas cards to your friends and family overseas
I love sending Christmas cards to family and friends overseas, and in Australia you can get these cute ones aimed at expats sending them to relatives/friends abroad. Usually they feature Koalas and Kangaroos and Santa Claus on the beach etc. Just choosing cards and writing them then posting them, helps me feel a bit like Christmas is on its way.
Get a real Christmas tree
Last year was the first time I’d had a real Christmas tree in Australia. We *always* have one in England, and we make a day of choosing our tree and going for hot chocolate etc. In Australia, the four Christmases I’ve had we always had fake Christmas trees, but my incred. housemate Joe got us a real one last year!! It was magical having the scent of a real tree fill the house.
Buy your favourite Christmas foods
Again, Australia is generally pretty good with supplying expats with their fave British products. Most supermarkets (even the small ones) will have a supply of overseas goods, from Bisto gravy, to Walker’s shortbread, and even bars of Galaxy! The packaged Mince pies in Australia aren’t great, but they do sell Mr Kipling ones which are okay. Also, for the things you *really* miss, ask your family and friends to send them over as gifts!
Watch traditional Christmas movies
Last year I moved to Sydney from Perth at the beginning of December, then had to spend my first couple of weeks of December looking for somewhere long-term to live. I moved into my house on 14th December, and my housemate and I watched Love Actually and it was amazing. This year I’m gonna start on the movies earlier; Elf, The Holiday, Love Actually, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Miracle On 34th Street, Christmas With The Kranks, and all those other random but amazing Christmas films.
Baking your fave Christmas goods while the music is blaring is one sure way to get you in the festive spirit. Christmas cookies, shortbread, mince pies, and all the cinnamon flavoured things!
So tell me, how do you make yourself feel more Christmassy when living in a hot country?
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