Christmas in Australia is unlike anywhere else! We replace the reindeer with kangaroos, and the snow with sand.
It can often be a big culture shock for international students when they spend their first Christmas in Australia. We asked our International Student Ambassadors to share their stories about how they celebrate the festive season in Perth, compared to in their home countries.
Abhijith Harikumar, India
This is my first Christmas in Perth - all the decorations at Yagan Square are giving me goosebumps!
Back home, we celebrate with the people from my society and neighbourhood. We get together at a common place like a small auditorium the day before Christmas, and choose a random person to wear the Santa Claus outfit. Then we go out together for Christmas Carols and collect money from all the houses in the neighbourhood. On Christmas Day, we set up a food drive for the children in the orphanage using the money collected. We perform dances and sing songs, and at the end of the day we light lanterns and fly them.
Emmanuel Dei, Ghana
In Ghana, we celebrate Christmas with carols at the church during the evening with our friends and families. We also have a lot of beach parties.
This is my first Christmas in Perth and someone has recommended I attend the Christmas Parade. I plan to attend parties, boat cruises, Christmas carols and stage performances.
The thing about Christmas in Perth that surprises me the most is how late the decorations can be seen. I expected the whole city to be painted in Christmas colours by the middle of November.
Leo Manuel Cadete, Philippines
In the Philippines, Filipinos start to decorate their house with lights and Christmas decorations at the beginning of September. For us, Christmas is about the birth of Christ, presents, and celebrating with your family. Children sing carols at night-time and we will all go to mass in the early morning. You can also enjoy a wide variety of Filipino delicacies outside of the church.
This is my first Christmas outside of my country and I plan to celebrate with my friends by having a dinner and exchanging presents. I like that people in Perth celebrate Christmas and actually give themselves a break during the season.
Harry Li, China
Back home, people would normally be shopping a lot around Christmas, as many shops would have good sales. I have been spending my Perth Christmases with my friends’ family for the past few years. They are Italian so normally we have a big feast and then spend the rest of the day recovering at the beach.
The thing that surprises me most about Christmas in Perth is the summer, which doesn’t fit the stereotype of what Christmas looks like in the movies. I love it because it means I get to spend the day on the beach or even at a pool party.
Hiromi Takahashi, Japan
The concept of Christmas is totally different in Japan compared to Western countries. In Japan, Christmas is more of romantic event than a family gathering event. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many couples go on a date then have a gourmet dinner and exchange gifts. Sadly, those who did not have a date or someone to spend Christmas with are judged very harshly.
On the other hand, we do have a family get-together celebration as well. It's quite interesting that the most common celebration cuisine is KFC. KFC Japan promoted their chicken as a Christmas meal in 1970's as we didn't have a Christian influence on the concept of Christmas. I used to look forward to having the KFC Christmas pack as a little kid - it is my good old memory of Christmas!
Although I would love to spend Christmas in Perth, I am heading back home to celebrate with my family. It’s very hard for me to switch into ‘Christmas mode’ in this heat, but my friends usually celebrate at the beach which sounds great.
Have you celebrated Christmas in Perth before? How did it compare to how you celebrate at home? Tell us by tagging us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) using our handle @studyperth or use the hashtag #LiveLearnLaunch