It’s a Kiwi Kinda Christmas!
It’s that jolly time of the year and In New Zealand, Christmas Day is typically celebrated in a festive and relaxed atmosphere at the beginning of summer! Forget the white Christmas, with snowfalls and snowflakes and think flip flops, bikinis, beaches & beach shorts, Chardonnay and craft beer! While traditions can vary from family to family, some common elements make Christmas in New Zealand unique to the Southern Hemisphere.
A Kiwi Christmas
More or less, you can expect Xmas in Kiwiland to go something like this:
First things first, New Zealanders celebrate Xmas on the 25th. The night of the 24th is normally reserved for early nights with an in-home meal with the family. If you have a younger family, the kids put the ‘Santa cookies and the thank you letter’ out by the Xmas tree and turn in for an early night!
Yes, most Kiwi families have a real Christmas tree and will put stockings out for ‘Santa’ to fill. The day starts super early - before sunrise in some cases! In most cases, the day starts by exchanging gifts. Christmas morning may involve the excitement of unwrapping presents under the Christmas tree. In many households, there may be a special Christmas breakfast or brunch of Xmas ham with poached eggs on toast, and of course, for the adults, a glass of yummy champagne!
Generally, the main meal of the day is ‘Xmas Dinner’ which is normally served around 14:00/15:00.
You’ll find most Kiwis outside taking advantage of the warm weather at some point during the day. From going to the beach (given that we have thousands of kilometres of coastal land), going for a swim, playing a game of touch or family and friends cricket to simply enjoying a picnic in a park.
Barbecues and Alfresco Dining
New Zealanders love to barbecue (known as a "BBQ" or "barbie"), and it's a common way to prepare a festive meal. Families often gather outdoors for a barbecue, enjoying grilled meats, seafood, and a variety of salads. BBQing and dining is a hallmark of a Kiwi Christmas.
Christmas attire in New Zealand is often casual and comfortable, reflecting the laid-back summer vibe. You may see people in shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops (jandals) rather than the traditional winter clothing associated with Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere.
Ok, Kiwis are definitely not as commercially driven as others While you'll still find Christmas decorations adorning homes and public spaces, the decorations may have a summery theme. You might see decorations featuring beach scenes, palm trees, and other symbols of the New Zealand summer.
We have to admit, that this is one of our favourite parts of Xmas day. After the main meal, some families may take a leisurely afternoon nap or relax in the shade, especially if the day has been filled with outdoor activities and a hearty lunch!
Kiwi Christmas Cuisine, Christmas Ham, Pavlova and Seasonal Fruits
So, a typical Christmas meal for most Kiwis is ham, roast lamb, kumara, pumpkin, potatoes, peas and beans! Dessert often features a meringue-based pavlova topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits. Seasonal fruits like berries and kiwi are popular additions to Christmas desserts.
And many friends do a potluck (bring a dish to the table) when having Xmas with friends or head out and grab a really traditional Fish ’n’ Chips meal and eat it on the beach!
Overall, a typical Christmas Day in New Zealand is marked by a blend of outdoor activities, delicious food, and a relaxed, informal atmosphere as people come together to celebrate the holiday season during the Southern Hemisphere's summer.