Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world on 25 December. But different religious communities have the different opinions about the Christmas date. Protestant and Roman Catholic churches hold Christmas Day services on 25 December. The Eastern churches - the Ethiopian Orthodox church, Russian Orthodox church and the Armenian church - celebrate Christmas on 6 or 7 January. Though the different celebrations, there have been rituals, parties and celebrations at this time of year for thousands of years.
Christmas trees are part of a long tradition of greenery being taken into the home at Christmas to brighten the dreary winter. Mistletoe was popular with Druid priests because it remained green throughout winter. Holly placed over the doorway was believed to drive away evil. Placing branches from trees in the home was first recorded in 1494, and by the beginning of the 1600s there are records of fir trees being decorated with apples. There are many native Australian plants in flower over the Christmas season. A number of these have become known as Christmas plants in various parts of the country, including Christmas bells, the Christmas orchid.
But the Christmas celebration in the southern hemisphere is different from that of the northern area. The heat of early summer in Australia has an impact on the way that Australians celebrate Christmas
In the weeks leading up to Christmas houses are decorated; greetings cards sent out; carols sung; Christmas trees installed in homes, schools and public places; and children delight in anticipating a visit from Santa Claus. On Christmas Day family and friends gather to exchange gifts and enjoy special Christmas food.
Many Australians spend Christmas out of doors, heading to camping grounds for a longer break over the Christmas holiday period. It has become traditional for international visitors who are in Sydney at Christmas time to go to Bondi Beach where up to 40,000 people visit on Christmas Day.
When Europeans first arrived in Australia they were delighted that they could pick wild flowers resembling bells and bright green foliage covered in red or white flowers to use as Christmas decorations. This was a huge contrast to the bare trees and dormant gardens they had left behind in Europe. Modern Indigenous Christmas celebrations are beginning to take on elements of traditional Indigenous culture.
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