By Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- For many Chinese students studying in Australian universities, taking part in the country's unique summer-time Christmas celebrations is a joyful and special experience.
"The first time I saw a Santa here, he was wearing a singlet with shorts!" said media arts and production student at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Cheng Qianhe, who was still grappling with the concept of a white-bearded good Samaritan from the North pole, his army of elves and the magical round-the-world journey that takes place on Christmas eve.
"I heard that a Santa cosplayer got sunstroke because it's too hot," he told Xinhua.
Although the rest of the world imagine woolly sweaters and reindeer when they think of the Christmas season, for Aussies nothing signals Christmas but sun, sand and surf.
"It is much hotter than I thought," human resource management student at UTS Zhao Jiabao said. "Christmas in summer time is very strange."
"But I think reindeer are cute and the character of Santa is very kind-hearted."
Despite many differences with other countries in the Northern Hemisphere when it comes to celebrating Christmas, some long-lasting traditions remain in place, possibly making Australia's holiday even stranger.
With dinner guests wearing board shorts and flip-flops, and temperatures often reaching around 40 degrees Celsius on Dec. 25, most families will still persist on serving a piping hot, whole-roasted turkey with baked winter vegetables.
Willing to ignore this oversight of culinary logic and jump on board with Australia's ill-fitting Christmas menu, master of finance student at UTS Ding Zixuan said "I will stay at home on Christmas and bake a turkey."
"I can accept that Christmas is so hot here, to me Christmas is all about parties and gifts and I like that some parents dress up as Santa to make children happy."
Every Chinese student that Xinhua spoke to said Christmas reminded them of Spring Festival, the Chinese lunar new year.
"It's like the western version of Lunar New Year," Cheng said. "It's all about family and being together."
Although Santa and his reindeer may not have a great deal in common with lanterns and lion dancers, the most important part of the two holidays, according to the students, is being around the ones you love.
"They are similar because in both Christmas and Spring Festival people will stay with their families and celebrate," University of Sydney master of media practice student Ren Menglin said.