Christmas Preparations

Christmas Preparations Kiwi Style

Christmas is fast approaching. Do you celebrate this day? What do you (and your family) do? This is how my family would typically celebrate Christmas.

New Zealand Christmas preparations are likely to be a little different to those from the Northern Hemisphere. Our summer season is obviously the biggest variance. Our schools close down for much of December and all of January.  Many of our businesses also close down over Christmas and New Year. Many kiwis take off to the beaches or lakes, or to extended family/holiday homes during this period.

Most New Zealanders have either a fresh or artificial Christmas tree and add some decoration to their homes, although wreaths on your door are not popular here. Not many indulge in outside lighting displays as it isn’t dark until about 9.30pm. Random garden decoration is quite unusual.

On a typical Christmas Day this might be the routine for my immediate family. Some might attend a midnight service on Christmas Eve, while others would attend church on Christmas morning. Presents aren’t a part of my Christmas, but our small gifts for the grandchildren would be shared after church. Major present giving would have occurred prior to the families arriving at our home. Bedlam will then likely reign as we get food ready for a meal about 1-2pm.

An assortment of meat (chicken, lamb, steak, sausages) will be cooked on the barbeque. Numerous bowls of different salads (probably at least 6) and bread rolls will make up the main meal. We’ll probably eat outside around the pool.

My husband despairs over my desserts for Christmas Day. But that has never stopped me. I rarely eat dessert nowadays but on this one day of the year, I do get carried away.

We would always have a pavlova, decorated probably with strawberries, ambrosia (it’s a dessert here), jellies (jello) and probably cheesecake. Fresh fruit salad would accompany whatever other cold dessert dishes I’m experimenting with that year. I have about 6 or 8 different dessert options. This is not the time to consider calories. I love cold desserts and indulge myself terribly on Christmas Day.

We would expect to have about 10-15 family members join us. The dining table would hold cold food, sauces, condiments etc while hot food would line the bench (counter). We will all file past and load up our plates (just like in the Navy lol). We sit outside and eat.

After over indulging and resting, it’ll be everyone into the pool to cool off. Extended family would likely return to their homes as evening approaches and hubby and I will breathe a sigh of relief – another successful Christmas, we hope.

We always prepare an excess of food. The plan is to have left-overs for a snack on Christmas evening and to avoid any cooking/food preparation all of Boxing Day.

As a child, my Christmas Day meal was quite different. Our dinner consisted of a huge roast meal, usually lamb or mutton, with all the trappings followed by Christmas pudding and custard. I think most kiwis over fifty will remember these Christmas dinners. Over the years, this fare has changed. I know some kiwis do still have the traditional meal, but most of us have adapted Christmas to the summer season.

This year my husband and I will be sharing Christmas with extended family in Southland. While I expect a very similar routine will be followed, the hostess (my nephew’s wife) may share some of her English traditions with us.

As the first “family gathering” since my mother’s passing, there will be some sadness around our Christmas Day. Without her presence it will be strange, but I’m sure we’ll be celebrating in the way Merville would have wanted and expected, with gusto and no melancholy.

Meri Kirihimete everyone! Have an amazing Christmas.


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