A Kiwi Cultural Xmas
How is Christmas celebrated culturally in NZ
In New Zealand, the Maori people, the indigenous Polynesian people of Aotearoa (New Zealand), celebrate Christmas with a blend of traditional Maori customs and contemporary Western traditions. Again, this is just an overview of how a traditional Maori Christmas is celebrated in some families and communities.
Gathering of Whanau (Family)
Christmas, like many celebrations, is often centred around family. Maori communities come together for festive gatherings, where extended family (whanau) and friends join in the celebrations.
Food plays a significant role in Maori celebrations, and Christmas is no exception. A traditional Maori Christmas feast might include a mix of both traditional Maori dishes and Western Christmas fare. Hangi, a traditional Maori method of cooking using heated rocks buried in a pit, might be a special feature of the meal.
Carols and Waiata (Songs)
Music is an integral part of Maori culture, and Christmas carols are often sung in both English and Maori. Traditional waiata (songs) may also be incorporated into the celebrations, reflecting the rich musical heritage of the Maori people.
Some communities may include cultural performances as part of their Christmas festivities. This could involve traditional Maori dances (kapa haka), songs, or other performances that showcase the cultural richness of the Maori people.
Christmas celebrations may also include spiritual aspects. The predominant religion in NZ, and amongst Many Maori is Christianity, and church services may be an essential part of the Christmas festivities. Traditional Maori spirituality and customs may also be woven into the celebrations.
Similar to Western traditions, gift-giving is a common practice during Maori Christmas celebrations. The emphasis is often on thoughtful and meaningful gifts, and the act of giving is seen as a way to express love and appreciation for one another.
Given that Christmas falls during the Southern Hemisphere's summer, outdoor activities are popular. Families may spend time at the beach, enjoy outdoor picnics, or participate in recreational activities that take advantage of the warm weather.
New Zealand is known for its diverse flora, and Christmas decorations may incorporate native plants and flowers. Pohutukawa, known as the "New Zealand Christmas tree" with its vibrant red flowers, is a symbol of the season.
Reflection on Cultural Heritage
Christmas can also be a time for reflecting on cultural heritage and passing down traditions to younger generations. Elders may share stories, myths, and teachings that are important to Maori identity.
Maori Christmas celebrations often extend beyond individual families to include the broader community. Community events, festivals, and initiatives may bring people together to share in the festive spirit.
It's important to note that the way Christmas is celebrated within the Maori community can vary, as traditions may differ among iwi (tribes) and individual families. The Maori people, like all New Zealanders, bring their unique cultural perspectives to the holiday season, creating a diverse and rich tapestry of Christmas celebrations.