I tiptoe downstairs in the dark. As I open the lounge room door, the enchanting twinkles of the fairy tree lights welcome me in, wrapping me in their wonder. Piles of presents lie under the tree, patiently waiting to be discovered. And there, in the middle of the room, draped in its paper swathe adorned with tiny angels and bells, lies the Christmas wish of a small child. Topped off with a silver bow, it sings out to be admired.
The magic of those Christmas mornings lives on in many adults’ hearts. Time passes and replaces the mystical Santa and those eight tiny reindeer with memories of mulled wine, cosy fires and scrumptious turkey dinners. Well, at least if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.
That longing for the magical feeling of Christmas is so strong for some, that a strange phenomenon takes place. Christmas in July.
So where does this happen? Why? And what would be the best countries to visit if you wanted a mid-year Christmas?
Which Countries Celebrate Christmas in July?
There is some inaccurate information out in there in the big World Wide Web. Therefore, l am on a quest to put that right.
The all-knowing Wikipedia states that;
in some southern hemisphere countries, such as Comoros, Madagascar, Bolivia, Angola, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Samoa, South Africa, Christmas in July or Midwinter Christmas events are undertaken.
Quite a few other articles repeat this information, but from my research and feedback from various sources, this seems to be inaccurate.
One such feedback was from Joe, a blogger I contacted in Bolivia. He, and his wife who has grown up there, have never heard of Christmas in July and neither have their friends. Christmas in Bolivia is mainly a religion and family oriented and a visit there at Christmas time certainly sounds like it would be a fabulous experience but in December, not July.
From my research, I can find no evidence that any of those countries listed, with the exception of South Africa, celebrate Christmas in July. If you have any further information I would love to hear from you and I can then update this post.
Countries which do celebrate this newly created mid-year ‘tradition’ are:
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada and UK.
However, the popularity, involvement and activities that occur can differ widely between them.
When I emigrated to Australia from the UK, I arrived a week before Christmas. It was hot. Already, that ‘Christmassy’ feeling was missing. Wrapping up in woolly scarves and braving the wintery winds whilst searching for the perfect gifts is as much a part of Christmas as the turkey stuffing and all the trimmings. So I can kind of 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 was a chance to experience an ambience of Christmas that matched their memories and therefore evoke a more realistic ‘Christmassy’ feel.
Christmas in Australia is synonymous with barbecued prawns on the beach, playing in the pool and above 30-degree C temperatures. ‘Christmas in July’ however, is a whole different story. Restaurants tout Christmas menus, pubs and clubs hold festive parties, Christmas lights are displayed on buildings, ice rinks appear and fake snow machines all work together to recreate that elusive Christmas feel. Christmas jumpers come out and friends and family gather around open fires, bringing to mind the Christmases of past.
Particularly popular spots for Christmas in July are the Snowy Mountains and the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The Snowy Mountains are perfect for those chasing a white Christmas. You can experience ‘Yulefest’ for almost three months! Step into that picture-perfect Christmas card of snow, mulled wine, hot chocolate, cosy open fires and festive fare.
Let’s be clear, 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.
Now, considering New Zealand is so close to Australia, you would think that the incidence for this secondary Christmas would be similar, however, from my research, there doesn’t seem to be the same fervour in New Zealand compared to Australia.
There are some restaurants offering events and Christmas Menus, but there doesn’t seem to be much more. When I asked some residents, many had not even heard of Christmas in July and a couple 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 increasingly a ‘big thing’ in New Zealand.
Checking out South Africa, there seems to be quite a few activities and events that happen across the country. The main cities, Johannesburg and Capetown advertise many events and celebrations. For a snowy Christmas in July, some head to the mountains.
The small mountain village of Hogsback holds an annual Christmas in July Winter Festival, which includes Christmas 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.
I can kind of understand the reasons that many celebrate Christmas in July if they are originally from the Northern Hemisphere because Christmas for them is definitely not the same when you are trying to cook a turkey in 30+ degree C temperatures!
However, I find it a little more difficult to understand that this celebration happens in the Northern hemisphere countries.
The hype for Christmas in July certainly seems quite widespread across the 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. The American Hallmark Channel plays Christmas movies and many towns across the States get into the Christmas spirit. A recent blog post by Treetopia, listed the top ten places in the US to celebrate Christmas.
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 coming. Whatever the reasons, the Americans seem to do Christmas in July very enthusiastically.
Canada seems to have the bug too, but perhaps less widespread than in America at the moment. The main focus again is retail sales, but many restaurants advertise their ‘Christmas in July’ menus. The enthusiasm for ‘Christmas in July’ parties in Canada may be on the increase; CTV interviewed a Canadian Christmas Store owner who told them;
There’s quite an influx of Christmas in July parties that we’ve noticed. In fact, business is so good that the store is expanding.
I was surprised to learn that ‘Christmas in July’ was a thing here. It certainly wasn’t when I lived there over twenty years ago. It seems the retailers are setting the agenda here. All the events I found were related to sales or company expos rather than any personal celebrations. I’d be interested to hear from you if in the UK now and you celebrate Christmas in July.
How to get that Mid-Year Christmas Cheer
Overall, if you are looking for an opportunity to celebrate Christmas for 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 US may the place to head.
Alternatively, you could just pop on ‘Love Actually’, crank up the air conditioning, wrap some fairy lights around the place, play Christmas carols, drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and tuck into a tasty hot roast dinner!
There are only 5 months from the 25th July to the 25th December – so not too long to wait for the real thing!
If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas mid-year, you can still experience mid-year cheer by being super organised and nabbing some bargains in the stores.
Getting your Christmas Shopping done now, will guarantee a painless December Christmas, giving you more time and money to enjoy your Christmas cheer in December!
Looking for ideas? Here are the Most Wished For Christmas items from Amazon.
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?
My idea is to then update the blog. That way anyone chasing that Christmas mid-year cheer gets the most accurate information for their travel plans.
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After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.