How is Christmas celebrated in New Zealand?
We all know that Christmas is a time for family, gift-giving, overeating, and religious observance. But what about in other parts of the world? How do other cultures celebrate the holiday season? In this blog post, we'll take a look at how Christmas is celebrated in New Zealand. Spoiler alert: it's a little bit different than how most other countries do things!
How does New Zealand celebrate Christmas today?
Christmas celebrations begin in New Zealand on December 24th, just like in many other parts of the world. However, due to the country's location in the southern hemisphere, Christmas takes place during the summertime!
One of two things that makes a New Zealand Christmas unique is the fact that it takes place during the summertime. This means that many people celebrate by going to the beach, having barbecues, and playing outdoor sports. Of course, there are also more traditional Christmas activities such as decorating trees and houses, exchanging gifts, and attending religious services.
The second is New Zealand is a very multicultural country, due to the country's large immigrant population, making the Christmas holiday time a period full of fun family time, Christmas songs and a very multicultural holiday. This means that you can find a wide variety of Christmas traditions being practiced in New Zealand, but one thing has remained consistent throughout time as the symbol of Christmas - the New Zealand Christmas tree!
Pohutukawa trees are abundant in New Zealand, and they are often referred to as the country's "Christmas tree." These trees bloom with red flowers during the month of December, adding a festive touch to the landscape. In Maori culture, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Pohutukawa tree is seen as a symbol of new life and hope. The red flowers of the tree are seen as a sign of good luck, and they are often used in traditional Maori ceremonies. So, when New Zealand was colonized by Europeans they adopted this meaning, blending it with their Christmas traditions. We (Love to Sing) even wrote two Christmas songs about the Pohutukawa tree - Pohutukawa tree and Pohutukawa Tree Waiata!
In Auckland, the Santa Parade is one of the most anticipated events of Christmas. It is the largest parade in New Zealand, and it attracts people from all over the country. The parade features floats, plenty of Christmas songs, marching bands, performers, and of course, Santa Claus! The event is free to attend, and it is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Other cities and towns throughout New Zealand also have their own Santa Parade. These smaller parades are typically held on the weekends in December leading up to Christmas Day. They are a great opportunity for families to get out and about, enjoy the festive atmosphere, and catch a glimpse of Santa Claus!
What is the history of Christmas in New Zealand?
The Christmas holiday has been celebrated in New Zealand for just over two centuries, but the way it is celebrated today has been influenced by a number of different cultures.
The first Christmas service in New Zealand was reported to be held on December 25th, 1814 at Hohi Bay, in the Bay of Islands. This mass is what we see below, with Russel Clark's now famous painting. Clark’s work captures what is thought to be the beginning of Christmas in New Zealand. Samuel Marsden can be seen at a makeshift pulpit preaching to both Maori and European settlers, with Ruatara (the Ngāpuhi leader who had met Marsden in Sydney, Australia) translating the service into Maori.
The First Christmas Mass in New Zealand in 1814 held by Samuel Marsden in Hohi Bay, Bay of Islands
In the early 1800s, more and more European settlers began to arrive in New Zealand. These settlers brought with them their own Christmas traditions, which began to influence the way Christmas was celebrated in the country. By the mid-1800s, Christmas in New Zealand was beginning to look more and more like Christmas in Europe, with the addition of traditions such as decorating Christmas trees and exchanging gifts.
The arrival of immigrants from other parts of the world, particularly Asia, in the late 1800s and early 1900s also began to influence the way Christmas was celebrated in New Zealand. In the mid-19th century, 25 December (unless it was a Sunday) was just another working day for many people although some of the provinces (such as Otago) made it a holiday.
One of the most notable changes to Christmas in New Zealand came in the 1970s with the arrival of immigrants from Polynesia. This influx of new people led to Christmas becoming a truly multicultural holiday in New Zealand. Today, Christmas in New Zealand is celebrated by people from all walks of life, and it is a truly unique and special holiday.
What are some delicious foods eaten at Christmas time in New Zealand
Christmas in New Zealand is a time for family, friends, and of course, food! There are a variety of traditional Christmas foods that are enjoyed in New Zealand, as well as some unique Kiwi twists on classic holiday dishes.
One of the most popular Christmas dishes in New Zealand is pavlova, a dessert made with meringue, whipped cream, and fresh fruit. This dish is believed to have been created in New Zealand, and it is a staple of Kiwi Christmas celebrations. Another popular Christmas food in New Zealand is Christmas pudding. This dessert is made with dried fruits, spices, and alcohol, and it is traditionally served with custard or cream. Christmas pudding is a popular dish in many parts of the world, but the Kiwi version is unique and truly delicious.
Pavlova, a New Zealand favorite at Christmas time
For those who prefer savory dishes, there are plenty of options available at Christmas time in New Zealand. One of the most popular savory dishes is roast lamb, which is often served with roast potatoes and vegetables. This dish is a Kiwi twist on the traditional English roast, and it is absolutely delicious. Other popular savory dishes include ham, turkey, and salmon. These dishes are all traditionally served with a variety of side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy.
No matter what your Christmas food preferences are, you are sure to find something to enjoy in New Zealand. Christmas is a time for family, friends, and of course, food! So come on down and enjoy a Kiwi Christmas feast!
How to have the perfect Christmas day in New Zealand
7:00am - Start the day by opening presents with your family. This is a great time to spend quality time together and enjoy each other's company.
8:00am - Christmas breakfast is a must! Whether you choose to have a traditional cooked breakfast or something lighter, most New Zealand families enjoy pancakes with fruit!
9:00am - It's time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful New Zealand summer weather! Go for a swim at the beach, go for a walk in the park, or just relax in your backyard playing cricket.
10:30am - Head back inside and get started on Christmas lunch. This is usually a big meal, so make sure you have plenty of food to go around.
12:00pm - Time to sit down and enjoy Christmas lunch with your family and friends. Choose either a whole roast salmon or a beautiful leg of roast New Zealand lamb.
1:00pm - Now it's time for dessert! Enjoy a Pavlova or Christmas pudding with your loved ones.
2:00pm - After lunch, it's time to relax, and by relax I mean an afternoon nap!
5:00pm - It's time to start getting ready for dinner. This is usually a smaller meal than lunch, but it's still important to spend time with your loved ones.
7:00pm - Sit down and enjoy Christmas dinner with your family. Often, glazed ham is placed in the center of the tables. sing some Christmas songs!
8:30pm - Now it's time for some Christmas fun! Kiwis love to celebrate Christmas with an alcoholic tipple!
11:00pm - Time to start getting ready for bed. Christmas is a big day, so make sure you get a good night's sleep!
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do on Christmas Day in New Zealand. Whether you want to spend time with family and friends, or get out and enjoy the beautiful summer weather, there is something for everyone. So come on down and celebrate Christmas Kiwi-style! And as they say in New Zealand, Meri Kirihimete!
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