Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas, down here.

I originally started writing this post to use on a blog based elsewhere in the world, but I decided enough of my regular readers are based in the Northern Hemisphere to justify just leaving it here. It's also become a little more casual since I made that decision, because, you know, a guest post is pretty much the equivalent of a film trailer. And you guys have already bought tickets.

First of all, something I never realised until I was pretty much an adult is that the entire world doesn't use the same world map. It always kind of puzzled me as a child how so many American people on TV could have NO IDEA where Australia and New Zealand were*, when to me they were a fairly prominent cluster of islands right in the middle of a ring of large land masses. Once I learned (relatively recently) that I'd grown up with Pacific-centric maps my whole life**, this confusion made a lot more sense.
The World as I've known it.



Anyway, I swear this post is about Christmas. I just sometimes worry that this blog gets too "here's some little-known facts about New Zealand!" because I've spent my whole life being told no one knows anything about us. And I'm not well-traveled. So if this is accurate then, great! I have a purpose. But if you already know all this then feel free to tell me. Politely.

So. As I said in my recent grizzle about the weather, December falls at the beginning of summer here, meaning Christmas is celebrated in what I imagine is a very different way to those up north.

For school children, Christmas means the end of the school year and the beginning of around six weeks of summer holidays, so growing up it was an especially exciting time. I imagine it's difficult for teachers to handle any child towards the end of a school year, but combine that with hype about Christmas presents and things can get a little crazy. I grew up going to a Christian school, so the religious aspect of the festive season was a significant part of my experience.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas day, the majority of shopping outlets are filled with Christmas decorations you're probably all familiar with; faux evergreen trees (if we want a 'real' tree, Monterey Pines are available), candy canes, Father Christmas, and snowflakes; despite the fact most shoppers will be filling their baskets while dressed in shorts and jandals. 'Winter wonderland'-type displays fill many shop windows, and most Christmas cards depict wintry themes too. In addition to this, there are a lot of locally made products which showcase Christmas symbols relevant to New Zealanders. A dressed-up Kiwi at the beach, wearing a Santa hat has become an iconic image here. The Pōhutukawa tree blooms in summer, and is referred to here as our 'native Christmas tree'. Cherries are ripe during December, and my family eats our way through a box of those every year.

Some families have a more 'traditional' Christmas meal with poultry and hot vegetables, while others have more outdoor-friendly barbeques- my extended family switches between the two. Most people who own baches (beach houses) will retreat there for the break, often through until the New Year. Since New Zealand is made up of islands, everyone lives less than 75 miles (exactly 119.44 kilometers, apparently) from the beach and it is a big part of our Christmas culture.

Tell me about your Christmas?

The public "tree" in my city.


* This is something that as a country we apparently love to watch. There are multiple videos on YouTube of New Zealanders quizzing unsuspecting Americans about their knowledge of our tiny little country, and taking great delight in mocking those who don't know the answers. Every time a 'famous' New Zealander ventures overseas with a camera crew, the same thing happens. I'm hoping it's a small-nation trait we share with others.
** These maps may be commonly used elsewhere, I have no idea. I'm just saying, that's pretty much all that's used here.

9 comments:

Allie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow I had no idea that we use different maps! Ya learn something new everyday...

Lauren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I'd never even thought about the maps! But it makes sense, since in the UK, we're central with the USA on the left and Asia on the right. New Zealand is the country on the furthest right of our maps.
I can't imagine Christmas being warm! I think Scottish people sometimes feel an affinity with New Zealanders because the countries look so similar in some parts, with all the beautiful hills. People THINK they know a lot about Scotland, but most of it is just nonsense, which I find really irritating. I've still never seen a film in which Scottish people are realistically portrayed. x

Krystal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i never thought about the maps either, that is so funny! and i have tried and tried to imagine how christmas is there and how it would feel so different, it makes no sense to me :)

Funmilayo said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i would love to visit new zealand, and your public "tree" is beautiful

hungryandfrozen said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ohhh I completely know what you mean about the Pacific-centric maps. First time I looked at a big atlas published overseas, where New Zealand was pushed way over to the side and stretched out all funny, I almost got a little scared, like, that's not what my country looks like!

I really hope there's a lovely clear evening before I go home so I can go stare at the Christmas tree lights...

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