Australians celebrate Christmas by getting together with close friends and family. Dec. 25 and 26 are public holidays. Some people travel, celebrating at the homes of relatives or at camp sites. Catholics often attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and other Christians typically attend special church services on Christmas Day.
Many Australians decorate their homes in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The put up Christmas trees and set out candles or electric lights, snowmen and images of Santa Claus. Images of Australian wildlife are also often used. Some people use figures of Santa in warm-weather clothing such as beach attire.
Children receive gifts from Santa on Christmas Day, either in stockings or under the Christmas tree. Before Christmas, they write letters asking Santa for what they want. In some stories, Santa rides in the traditional sleigh with reindeer pulling it. In others, six white kangaroos pull his sleigh.
Australians often prepare and eat a special Christmas Day meal consisting of roasted meats, vegetables, steamed puddings and fruit cakes. They sometimes bake a coin inside steamed puddings; the person who finds the coin is expected to have a lucky year. Some people hold cookouts at beaches or in parks instead of preparing the traditional meal at home. Individual friends and family members also often exchange gifts.