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Christmas in Australia is often very hot. Whereas the northen hemisphere is in the middle of Winter, Australians are baking in Summer heat. It is not unusual to have Christmas Day well into the mid 30 degrees celcius, or near 100 degrees in australia

A traditional meal includes a turkey dinner, with ham, and pork. A flaming Christmas plum pudding is added for dessert. In the Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often contained a gold nugget. Today a small favor is baked inside. Whoever finds this knows s/he will enjoy good luck. Another treat is Mince Pies.

Some Australians and particularly tourists often have their Christmas dinner (midday) on a local beach, Bondi Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day. Other families enjoy their day on a picnic. If they are at home, the day is punctuated by swimming pool, playing Cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities.

The warm weather allows Australians to enjoy a tradition which commenced in 1937. Carols by Candlelight is held every year on Christmas Eve, where tens of thousands of people gather in the city of Melbourne to sing their fsvorite Christmas songs. The evening is lit by as many candles singing under a clean cut night sky. The sky with its Southern Cross stars is like a mirror. Sydney and the other capital cities also enjoy Carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Australians surround themselves with Christmas Bush, a native plant which has little red flowered leaves.

Christmas shopping is often done in shorts and t-shirts. At many beaches Santa Claus arrives on a surfboard, or even on a surf lifesaving boat. Australia's worst Christmas was in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy devestated Darwin in the Northen Territory. More than 60 people were killed.

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The New Zealand Christmas tree is called Pohutokawa and its flowers are a brilliant scarlet throughout the Christmas season. Since Christmas occurs in summer, New Zealanders do not have a tradition of snow and ice. That, however, doesn't stop Santa who still visits the cities and towns while dressed in his red and white outfit.

Small towns and suburban areas have Santa parades where community groups proudly display brightly decorated floats. It is not always hot enough in the early summer to have Christmas dinner on the beach (February is usually the hottest month). Many people in New Zealand follow the old English traditions and have turkey and plum pudding, but these are often served with cold salads. Sometimes the traditional dinner is cooked on the barbecue outside and may include a whole variety of typical Kiwi treats, such as lamb chops, along with the usual Christmas fare.

No one would think Christmas complete without a fluffy Pavlova -- an airy meringue confection made of whipped egg whites and sugar, cooked in a slow, low-heated oven and then decorated with fruit, such as kiwifruit and strawberries, and then piled high with whipped cream. Although Australia claims Pavlova for its own, it was created by a "Kiwi" who worked as a chef in Australia. Therefore, this fabulous creation is also claimed by New Zealand.

Because so many people from the Northern hemisphere now live in New Zealand, it has become the tradition to have two Christmases, one on the 25th of December and the other in July, which is mid-winter. Many hotels, restaurants and homes put on the full Christmas celebration, complete with tree, gifts and of course all the foods which were just too heavy to serve in the heat of summer. In many small towns and villages, Santa visits all the children on Christmas morning riding on a fire engine. They hear him coming because the siren warns them to come out of their homes and stand by the road so he can toss candy to them.

Many people in New Zealand will create a traditional Maori hangi. This is essentially a big hole in the ground which is heated with hot rocks placed in it. It's filled up with baskets of food, covered and then allowed to cook underground. By the time the food comes out, everyone is anxiously waiting for the tender pork, chicken, kumara, pumpkin, potatoes and stuffing. It's been said that there is nothing to compare with the total bliss of the taste of food from a hangi, delicately smoked and melt-in-the-mouth soft. Usually the hangi is served in the late afternoon or early evening. After the meal, folks often sit around singing carols as it gets dark.

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