New research released recently reveals despite Christmas being the most popular time of the year for families to spend time together, conversation with awkward relatives on Christmas Day is one part of the festivities Aussies dread.

The nation-wide study by family therapist Jacqueline McDiarmid looked into Aussies views on family and Christmas. In Tasmania, 52% admit they struggle to engage in more than small talk with their nearest and dearest. Of those surveyed 41% feel less connected to their families than ten years ago.

Fiddly conversations with relatives pose a greater risk than we might think. McDiarmid explained that family connection is important to form a sense of identity, especially for children. She stresses that celebrating traditions and telling family stories, memories or even legends to our children, as a way to connect, is now more important than ever.

“Many people today are feeling more isolated and we often live in different parts of the world to our families. This makes it hard for relatives to spend quality time together,” she said. “However, being connected to family is crucial for people to form a sense of identity and belonging. What these findings show is that most people like the idea of getting to know their relatives but just don’t know how to do it.”

“Partaking in family traditions and remembering our shared past is now more important than ever if we want our children to have a connection to their family and origin,” she concluded.


Key findings – Tasmania:
52.2% struggle to engage in more than ‘small talk’ with their loved ones
41.7% feel less connected to their families than they were 10 years ago.
42% only see their extended family once a year
44% of those aged 18 – 34 feel less need to catch up with family in person as they can keep in touch with their relatives through technology
36.6% of those aged 35 – 55 years old blame physical distance
59% want to create stronger family connections
43% of Australians don’t celebrate well-established Christmas traditions

Genealogy website Ancestry commissioned the study through research platform Glow to shed light on Australians’ views on family and Christmas. The study had 1,000 respondents, forming a representative sample of the Australian population, and was completed on 19 November, 2019.