Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Christmas In New Zealand

One of the questions I often get asked, here in the US, is "Do you celebrate Christmas in NZ?"

If that was a burning question in your mind, then the answer is yes we do, however not in quite the same way as we do here in the US, though not too dissimilar.

One of the biggest differences, is of course, the season. December is summer downunder. The photo to the right is very evocative of a NZ Christmas. Sun, the beach and the beautiful Pohutukawa tree, also known as New Zealand's Christmas tree. There was a large Pohutukawa tree in the backyard of my home in Wellington. It looked glorious at Christmas time and one year I used the blooms to decorate the Christmas cake, after I'd forgotten to get the normal Christmas cake decorations.

Christmas dinner can vary. Some Kiwis make the traditional English style celebration meal - Turkey or ham, roast potatoes, roasted veges, peas and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Others go to the beach for a picnic or barbecue. It can also be hot, so cold meats, salads, trifle and a pavlova are often on the menu.

First time I ever told my American hubby, that I was making a Christmas Cake
he sort of turned his nose up, ever so slightly. The English style cakes, however, are nothing like their American counterparts, as in they do not resemble hockey pucks (J's description, not mine!).

I usually make mine about July. It's then wrapped up in aluminum foil and kept in the fridge. Once a week, I take it out and pour a small amount of rum or whiskey over it. By Christmas it's moist and well marinated :-) Same procedure is followed for the Christmas Pudding . Fruit Mince Tarts are also popular and use up the last of the Basic Fruit Mixture .

Even though it is Summer, Santa's sweat in full Santa costumes and the stores deck themselves out in snowy Christmas themes. Most Cities and Towns have variations on Carols In The Park and Christmas Parades .

Christmas is very much a family time. Most people get the day off and also the day after, which is called Boxing Day .

The time difference also means that while we, here in the US, are rushing around Xmas Eve doing all the last minute shopping, Santa has already visited NZ, the kids have opened their presents and everyone is tucking into Christmas dinner.

Which reminds me, must start stocking up on dried fruit for the cake!


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