Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas in New Zealand

New Zealand
Today's installment of diverse Christmas customs comes from Catherine of On the Nightstand who just so happens to be in New Zealand! I hope you learn as much from her as I did...

While Christmas songs sing of snow, and sleighs, and other imagery common common to winter, New Zealand's version of Christmas is more about beaches, barbeques and baches. This is because, being a nation in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas takes place in our summer months. (Unfortunately, this does not automatically mean that it is going to be sunny - it's shaping up for a possibly wet Christmas again this year.)

Because of the difference in season, we've modifed our traditions to not only match the warmer weather, but also enjoy it. Starting in December, we slip, slop, slap and wrap (our mantra for the summer months especially) and head out for our Christmas parades to see the floats and, of course, Santa Claus himself. In the big cities we also have Christmas In The Park, an event with singing, musical acts and more. Christmas In The Park is also broadcast on TV, so everyone around the country can enjoy the big spectacle, in addition to going to their own, smaller and local events.

We do have Christmas trees here (and there, and everywhere), both real and fake, which we decorate. And we sing Christmas carols of all sorts, including our own: some, like A Pukeko In A Ponga Tree, are modified ones from other places, while others, like Te Haranui, are not. We also have a tradition of decorating native trees - we have taken to referring to the pōhutukawa as the "New Zealand Christmas Tree", due to it being in bloom right around Christmas time.

Christmas Day is usually a time for family and food. For my family it's sort of a family reunion with presents at the end - grandparents through to grandchildren all getting together and discussing the events of the previous year and also what they hope for the next. The main meal of the day is lunch this time, and the goal seems to be "stuff yourself silly, to the point where you just want to take a nap". Dinner is leftovers, and quite possibly optional.

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day, which is a day of chaotic post-Christmas sales, as well as a day of relaxing.

Thank you Catherine! I kinda always wondered about Boxing Day. Learn more about New Zealand at Wikipedia or its CIA Factfile.


Rebecca :) said...

That was really interesting! I have tried to imagine before having Christmas in the summer. It might actually be nicer for me since I always feel better when warmer. My bf is from Canada and explained Boxing Day to me the other day. I never knew what that was about either!

Cleverly Inked said...

Living in FL we pretty much have summer all year round so I know how it is to have a hot Christmas