In New Zealand, like its neighbor Australia, Christmas comes in the middle of summer vacations.
Many people like to spend time on the beach, camping or in their holiday homes (Baches) for Christmas.
Many cities have a Santa parade with decorated floats (made by businesses and local churches, etc.), marching bands and equipment. This can be any time from mid-November and it is really a commercial event, but everyone enjoys it. As it’s hot, Santa is sometimes seen wearing ‘jandals’ (New Zealand sandals), and he could even trade his red top for a New Zealand All Blacks rugby shirt!
The children of New Zealand leave out the carrots for Santa’s reindeer and Santa can be left with a beer and some pineapple pieces!
In major cities such as Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton, there are great shows and displays of Christmas lights. There are great carol services throughout the country, including in small towns, villages and rural areas.
New Zealand has its own special Christmas carols. These include ‘Te Haranui’, Christmas in New Zealand and Kiwiana’s Christmas! These are sung in most carol services throughout the country.
Many people have a Christmas tree in their homes and decorate it as people in the United States or the United Kingdom. Kiwis also have their own special Christmas tree, the Pōhutukawa. It can become a very large tree and has bright red flowers that are popular decorations and also appear on Christmas cards. It has been associated with Christmas since the mid-nineteenth century. Pōhutukawa is also important in the Maori culture. The Pōhutukawa only grows on the North Island. It flowers from mid-December to around the second week of January. The sooner it blooms, the hotter the summer should be; And the longer it flowers, the longer the summer!
Many New Zealanders make a barbecue for Christmas lunch and this is becoming more popular. The foods that are cooked in the barbecue are often slices of ham or even venison or some other type of exotic meat. They also roast shrimp and other fish. White bait donuts are also popular. It is common to have Christmas cookies on the Christmas dinner table.
Desserts are also very popular! Many still have a hot fruit pudding with custard and ice cream, but cold desserts are popular. These include pavlova and whipped cream, meringues, cold fruit salad, gelatin and ice cream. The drinks will include a range of soft drinks. Those who like it often also make alcoholic beverages. Here is a recipe for pavlova.
My New Zealand relations have an English-style Christmas meal in mid-June (the mid-winter of New Zealand)! This food will often be hot food such as roasted chicken, roast lamb, cold ham, hot roasted vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato (New Zealand has its own sweet potato called Kumara), and other root vegetables and also green leafy vegetables. like the peas The ‘Winter Christmas’ meals in June or July are becoming more popular in businesses and clubs as a way to spend time together. (My cousins also like coleslaw with their winter holiday food, but they seem to be very unusual in doing this!)
People open their gifts on Christmas day once the whole family is together. This is usually before the Christmas meal.
A popular gift for Christmas in New Zealand are the “jándalos”. These are sandals flip-flops / thing – the name ‘jandals’ comes from the combination of the two words ‘Japanese Sandals’. They have been popular in New Zealand since the late fifties.
In the Maori language, Mery Christmas is ‘Meri Kirihimete‘.