No Christmas trees. No poinsettia flowers. No walks at night nibbling gingerbread cookies while looking at sparkling lights around the neighborhood. A New Zealand (or Kiwi) Christmas sounded pretty boring to me. At first, anyway.
But we will have a great Christmas, I can tell. We’re probably going to do some stuff other Kiwis do. So what do Kiwis do? I can tell you one thing, it’s “heaps” (that’s Kiwi talk) different to what I’m used to as an American from California.
Most Kiwi families make hokey pokey, a crispy, crunchy bar that tastes a lot like English toffee. They (and soon, we) crumble it on Pavlova, which is really “yum.” Pavlova is a bowl-shaped cake made from sweetened fluffy egg whites which are baked, then filled with whipped cream and fruit. At Christmastime, Kiwis eat fresh strawberries as well as--you guessed it—kiwi fruit! And I won’t be having gingerbread because they don’t sell molasses here.
It’s summertime in the Southern hemisphere at Christmastime. So some people go to their “bach” (pronounced batch) for their holidays. A bach is another smaller house that is typically on the beach or in the countryside. The weather is warm, and so kids are starting to go barefoot when they go out.
Instead of having poinsettias for a Christmas symbol, Kiwis have the puhutakawa. The puhutakawa is a tree that can grow quite large and flowers for only about three weeks at Christmastime. The flowers are bright red and look something like the bottlebrush flowers of Southern California.
Also, Christmas is a bit different from America because many Kiwis think about the meaning of the holiday differently. Half of the people in New Zealand are not religious, so there are not many pictures of Jesus and the Bible story of Christ’s birth in public places.
I guess it doesn’t matter that Christmas is going to be different for me here in New Zealand because what really matters is the “reason for the season.” We all can still celebrate Jesus’ birthday with a party!