A photo of Santa arriving at the beach by boat. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: A1500, K26950.
Like all countries in the southern hemisphere (the hemisphere south of the Equator), Australia's seasons follow the sequence:
Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November
This means that the Australian Christmas takes place at the height of summer. It also means that the mid-year break for students happens in winter. The end of year break for students is commonly known as the 'summer holidays', or the 'Christmas holidays'.
Even though the four 'official' calendar seasons have the same names as the northern hemisphere seasons, the weather during these seasons is very different to northern hemisphere weather patterns. Australia is generally a very dry place, so summers can get much hotter. The pattern of rainfall is also distinct - some places have abundant rain at one time of the year and almost none at other times.
Indigenous Australians have long had their own seasonal calendars, which are different from the seasonal calendar brought to Australia by the British in 1788. For example, the Jawoyn, from the Northern Territory, recognise six seasons. Jiorrk, the wet season, lasts from January to February. Bungarung, the end of the rains, lasts from March to mid-April. Jungalk, the hot start of the dry period, lasts from mid-April to the end of May.
Malaparr, the cooler, middle part of the dry period, lasts from June to the end of August. Worrwopmi, the humid time, lasts from September to the end of October. Wakaringding, the humid time when the first rains begin to fall, lasts from November until the end of December.