Christmas in July Around the World
Christmas in July is a phenomenon that has gradually spread across the globe. It’s hard to pinpoint where, or indeed when, it actually began, but it seems it is likely to have been introduced by those used to Christmas in the northern hemisphere who had moved to southern climes. To recreate, capture or chase those magical Christmas stories and make them our own.
This post delves into:
- The whys and what fors of Christmas in July
- Where and how it is celebrated in different parts of the world
- Which countries are best to visit to celebrate this interesting concept of mid-year cheer and
- What happens in those countries that celebrate Christmas in July
The Origin of Christmas in July
The magic of Christmas lives on in many adult’s hearts. As time passes, memories of mystical Santa Claus and those eight tiny reindeer are replaced by mulled wine, cosy log fires and scrumptious turkey dinners with all the trimmings. Cute snowmen and snow-clad scenes adorn Christmas Cards (or ecards nowadays), wishing us all a very Merry Christmas.
However, in the Southern Hemisphere, the joy of Christmas is celebrated on sun-baked beaches with picnics and prawns on the barbie (that’s barbeque in Aussie slang). The children build sandcastles rather than snowmen and ride surfboards rather than snow sleds. And thereby lies the problem. Many of those originally from the northern hemisphere, say that it hasn’t got the, “Christmassy feel”.
That longing for the magical feeling of Christmas is so strong for some, that it has resulted in what we know as, Christmas in July.
Which Countries Celebrate Christmas in July?
These are the main countries which celebrate Christmas in July – though there differences in how they celebrate and the extent of celebration.
Christmas in July in Australia
When I immigrated to Australia from the UK, I arrived a week before Christmas. It was hot. Already, that cold ‘Christmassy’ feeling was missing.
Wrapping up in woolly scarves and braving the wintery winds whilst searching for the perfect gift, is as much a part of Christmas as the turkey stuffing and all the trimmings. So I can understand the hankering for the Christmas ‘feels’ experienced in the Northern hemisphere.
That said, when I first heard of ‘Christmas in July’, I actually thought it was a joke. But no, in Australia it was a big deal. With so many immigrants from the northern hemisphere, it is a chance to experience a Christmas that closely matches their wintery memories. They want to evoke a more realistic ‘Christmassy’ feel.
Christmas in Australia is synonymous with barbecues, beaches, slapping on sunscreen and playing in the pool in above 30-degree C temperatures. However, Christmas in July in Australia is a whole different story.
How is Christmas in July Celebrated in Australia?
Restaurants tout Christmas in July menus, pubs and clubs hold festive parties, Christmas lights are displayed on buildings, ice rinks and fake snow machines appear; all working together to recreate that elusive wintery Christmas experience. Christmas jumpers come out and friends and family gather around open fires, bringing to mind the Christmases of past.
You might hear the words, Yulefest or Yuletide which are synonymous with Christmas in July, though they are also a good excuse to extend the Christmassy feel for the whole of the southern hemisphere winter, June, July and August. These extended winter celebrations happen particularly in the Blue Mountains and the higher altitude points of Australia – where the chance of snow seals the deal for those chasing the ultimate festive fulfilment.
Australian Christmas in July Hotspots
Particularly popular spots for Christmas in July are the Snowy Mountains and the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. They offer that picture-perfect Christmas card experience of snow, mulled wine, hot chocolate, cosy open fires and lashings of festive fare.
However, there is a range of other activities in and around Sydney, including Christmas Markets and even beachside ice skating. The Rocks, in Sydney, holds a very special Christmas in July, with European wooden chalet Christmas stores, fairy lighting, Xmas pines, Christmas carols, mulled wine and a real festive feel.
The Rocks’ Christmas in July 2021 dates are 8th – 11th July.
Sydney’s Christmas at the Rocks, Australia
Perth, in Western Australia, also caters for those looking to celebrate mid-year, with restaurant Christmas dinners, Christmas fairs and best Christmas jumper competitions in local pubs. You can check out Christmas in July events in Perth here.
Not everyone celebrates this mid-year celebration in Australia, but it is relatively popular. There are plenty of events and festive opportunities for those looking for good cheer, merriment and the spirit of Christmas.
Christmas in July in New Zealand
Considering New Zealand is so close to Australia, you would think that the incidence for this secondary Christmas would be similar. However, there doesn’t seem to be the same fervour in New Zealand compared to Australia.
A few restaurants offer events and Christmas in July menus, but not much more. Many New Zealanders I asked hadn’t even heard of Christmas in July and a few were quite forthright in not wanting it to catch on!
What is celebrated mid-year in New Zealand though, is the Matariki Festival. This is the Maori New Year celebration, and this Festival is apparently becoming an increasingly ‘big thing’ in New Zealand.
Christmas in July in South Africa
South Africa, has quite a few Christmas in July activities and events occurring across the country. The main cities, Johannesburg and Capetown advertise several events and festive celebrations. For a snowy July Christmas however, some South Africans head to the mountains.
The small mountain village of Hogsback holds an annual Winter Festival, which includes a bonfire, lights, carols, Santa’s African Sleigh, a Gala Christmas Dinner, plenty of Gluehwein (mulled wine), hot chocolate and even a Christmas geocache. The festival is apparently very popular, with accommodation booking out months in advance.
We spent almost a year in South Africa and if we had the choice, our Christmas in July would be spent amongst the wildlife. What better Christmas present to yourself than a safari trip mid-winter? The summer months bring the rainy season and high temperatures so Christmas in December in Kruger isn’t so enticing. Whereas a Christmas in July in Kruger? I’d pass up the snow in the mountains to do a self drive through Kruger, any day.
We spent July and August 2020, in Klaserie Nature Reserve, Greater Kruger, amongst the South African wilderness. Where the magic of Santa was replaced by the magic myriad of wildlife and those eight tiny reindeer by hundreds of impala, kudu and the tiniest antelope I’ve ever seen, the steenbok. That is where we found our magic – in the South African bush.
Christmas in July in the United States
I can appreciate the reasons that many celebrate Christmas in July – especially if they are originally from the Northern Hemisphere. For them, Christmas is definitely not the same when trying to cook a turkey in 30+ degree C temperatures!
However, I find it difficult to understand that this celebration also happens in the Northern hemisphere countries. The hype for Christmas in July certainly seems quite widespread across the United States. However, I get the impression that it is based predominantly on retail sales and is also a great excuse to party.
Also, for those who love Christmas, they get to have a double helping – and who wouldn’t? All those decorations and cute little Christmas ornaments get to come out of their box twice a year instead of being packaged away for a whole year.
Some suggest that Americans use it as a pick-me-up to help get through the heat of summer. The wistful memories of a cold winter Christmas, helping them look forward to the cooler months ahead. Others say that the tradition of Christmas in July in the US started back in 1933 at Keystone Camp in North Carolina. Country living reported that the tradition then evolved over the years to an even bigger affair with Santa, elves and reindeer.
Whatever the reasons, the tradition now seems well entrenched across the US and Christmas in July is approached with enthusiasm and the Hallmark Channel ensures no one misses out on the July Christmas feels.
Hallmark Christmas in July
The American Hallmark Channel plays Christmas movies in July and has a special two-week Christmas in July event in which it shows its top-rated Christmas movies and also releases special offers and exclusive Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments.
Before researching this article, I’d never heard of these, but I must admit, some of them are indeed tiny masterpieces that would be a delightful addition to family mementoes.
Here are a few that caught my eye.
Christmas in July in Canada
Christmas in July in Canada seems similar to the US in that there are retail sales and Xmas dinner menus available in restaurants. However, it seems to be celebrated less than in the US. Several relatives that I have in Canada hadn’t even heard of it.
Perhaps, Canadians get there fill of magic at Christmas time – given that many parts are snow-covered and, as all the children’s books and Christmas movies tell us, that’s the true image of Christmas.
It’s a fact that many tourists flock to Canada at Christmas time to get that fix of a snowy Christmas. We ourselves headed off from Australia to experience Christmas in Vancouver and rented a classic log cabin in the snowbound mountains of Banff National Park.
You will find a Christmas in July tradition in Quebec though – the annual tradition of ‘Noël des campeurs’, the camper’s Christmas is held in July. On the weekend closest to July 25th, campers gather with their friends and family and take part in Christmas cheer and festivities.
Christmas in July in the United Kingdom
I was really surprised to learn that ‘Christmas in July’ was happening in the UK. It certainly wasn’t when I lived in the south of England over twenty years ago. It seems the retailers are setting the agenda there too. All the events I found were related to sales or company expos rather than any personal celebrations.
Christmas in July Party Ideas
Whether you are in cold climes celebrating a warm Christmas in July or in a cold clime celebrating a chillier mid-year Christmas, you will want to create a ‘Christmassy feel’.
With Christmas decor, food and music you will be able to bring some Christmas festivity to your party. Here are some ideas with links to help you plan your Christmas in July party food.
Enjoy your Christmas in July party – it should be relaxed and fun. At Christmas, in December, there always seems to be so much going on – Christmas in July celebrations will likely be more relaxed. Enjoy.
If your guests are dressed in Xmas outfits then the mood will be even more festive. Christmas colours could be the theme or go all out and wear ugly Christmas jumpers or fun Christmas t-shirts.
Christmas in July Shopping
If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas in July, you can still experience some mid-year cheer by being super organised and nabbing some bargains in the Christmas in July sales.
Getting your Christmas Shopping done now will give you more time and money to enjoy your ‘real’ Christmas cheer in December.
Where in the World to get that Mid-Year Christmas Cheer
Overall, if you are looking for an opportunity to celebrate Christmas in July and bring some mid-year cheer, it looks like the best places are Australia (particularly in the Snowy Mountains) and South Africa (also in the mountains) for a snowy, colder feel. If you are just looking for the Christmas party mood and sales bargains, then the USA may be the place to head.
Alternatively, you could just play your favourite Christmas movie, crank up the air conditioning, wrap some fairy lights around the place and tuck into a tasty roast turkey dinner with festive trimmings.
I am interested to get feedback from readers about your experiences of Christmas in July. Have you have experienced it anywhere other than the countries mentioned?
Is there something you were looking for that isn’t covered in this post? Let me know 🙂
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