Friday, 29 July 2011

Christmas in July

Only last year did I became aware of the Australian tradition of Christmas in July.

Celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer, we miss out on snow, cold weather and warm foods - the typical postcard Christmas scene....instead Christmas lunch is celebrated with seafood, salads, barbecues and outings to the beach or swimming pools.
My visiting family (from South Africa and Portugal) and friends, on Christmas Day 2007

I confess I still enjoy celebrating Christmas the Portuguese way with the traditional Christmas menu of Bacalhau (salted dry cod fish) with boiled potatoes, boiled eggs and kale - we have managed to find the real Portuguese one here too, (otherwise Broccoli would do) or otherwise any other Codfish recipe, one of my favorites being Bacalhau com Natas (Cod fish in cream sauce).

Cod fish in cream sauce
Traditional boiled cod fish

Desserts would be Rabanadas (Tipsy Slices), Creme Caramel Pudding and Sweet Rice Pudding, and of course the Christmas Cake or the more traditional Bolo Rei (Crown cake) and little dishes with a variety of different nuts and dried fruits.
Arroz Doce -  Sweet Rice Pudding

Bolo Rei (King's cake)  - photo from the net

Of course Portuguese women slave for days before Christmas to produce a huge quantity of food that will be eaten over 2 or 3 days.

The Australians are a lot more practical with their food choice, because with temperatures between 30ºC and 40ºC, nobody wants to be in front of a hot oven, but to me a barbecue is just not Christmas fare. You can have a barbecue any day of the year!

So for the past 4 years I have been inviting my friends to my Christmas Eve dinner offering them my special Portuguese menu. On Christmas day I will then join any one who invites us for a barbecue and a swim.

In the States of Victoria, Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory, in the snowfields, during the month of July, being the peak of winter, various hotels and clubs, offer their guests the traditional Christmas menus, and many Australians travel to these areas to enjoy the snow and to take part in these festivities.

In other parts of the country, even though we don´t get snow or the winters are not that cold, many restaurants offer Christmas in July menus, and a
Fruit Mince Pie
lot of big companies book out restaurants and clubs for their employees to celebrate this date - any excuse for a nice meal,  a couple of drinks and a dance is a good excuse!
Sadly because I work in a small office we don´t get such luxuries, but one of our Doctors who loves Christmas cake and has a sweet tooth, brought in a dozen delicious Fruit mince pies for us to have with our morning coffee, which made me think about this tradition and hence this post.

I don´t know if other countries in the Southern Hemisphere have such a tradition, but when I lived in South Africa we didn´t have it.

Do you know of any funny or special traditions that are just celebrated in your country?


  1. Hi,

    I love the idea of Christmas in July. In fact when our grandchildren are a little older I may suggest it to our family that we all get together in July! put aup a tree and even go to the beach! I think it's a great idea!

    I would like to try Bacalhau com Natas (but using the presoaked bacalhau) Do you ahve a good recipe I could post on my blog and perhaps a photo with credit back to your blog please? I tried the Bolo de Rei last year, I have to say it was awful. :( I wrote a post about it and was told off for bying it from Lidyl. I have to go and buy one fresh from a proper baker! That's the plan for this year. In fact I may take one to France with us.

    Our tradition is Fruit mince pies, christmas cake and christmas pudding. We always have turkey on Christmas day

  2. Thank PIP, I will soon mail you my recipe for Bacalhau com natas (using the pre-soaked one is a good idea, less work...As you were told the Bolo Rei is nice when just baked in a good bakery, don´t buy those that have been standing in the shops for weeks. When it goes dry you can even slice it up and make toast with butter (just like raisin bread toast), so nothing goes to waste.

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  6. I love this recipe good idea.


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