As we head into the end of December, we are prepping for our first expat Christmas here in New Zealand! After searching and finally finding a home (I will be sharing some “before” sneak peeks of our space next week), spending the past two weeks attempting to settle in and furnish this house of ours, and preparing for the arrival of our baby in less than a month, Christmas has honestly been the last thing on my mind. That is until I realized that Christmas was basically a week away and we still had yet to buy a tree, put up lights, or buy a single present! After completely missing Halloween, Holden’s favorite holiday, because of traveling at the time, I knew that we couldn’t do the same for Christmas (nor would I want to!). I’ve found a Kiwi Christmas to be quite different from Christmas as we know it from the States and thought I’d share a few differences between an American Christmas and a New Zealand Christmas…
- Just the fact that it’s the middle of summer here in New Zealand means it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. Although we lived in Southern California where it’s a steady 75 degrees (24 degree celsius) year-round and we don’t experience a cold, snowy Christmas, there is something in the air that makes it feel like the winter season. So it feels quite odd to be heading into summer and the Christmas season at the same time. Christmas in New Zealand means bbq-ing at the beach or spending the day in the backyard with friends and family, not the “typical” American Christmas day.
- Christmas is truly everywhere in the States from the end of October (I remember seeing Christmas decor in the shops before Halloween last year) leading right up until Christmas. People have Christmas lights on their homes, Christmas trees in the windows, Christmas music playing on all of the radio stations, and you are inundated with Christmas decor in almost every, single shop that you step into. It is now a week away from Christmas and I have only seen one house in our neighborhood that has lights on it, I have only spotted a house or two with a Christmas tree in the window, I have yet to find a radio station that plays Christmas music, and I could only find one aisle of Christmas decor in our local shop and it was completely sold out. It seems there isn’t the same sort of consumerism around Christmas that we as Americans experience during the holiday seasons and it’s honestly been quite refreshing.
- With our move, we were incredibly late to the game in getting our Christmas tree so imagine our surprise when we went to the Christmas tree lot to cut down our tree and found an entire field of trees that had been pre-sold in October and were still waiting for their owners to come and claim them with only a week and a half left before Christmas. When I questioned the owner of the tree farm, he didn’t seem phased in the least and just replied that it wasn’t that late.
- Driving around to see Christmas lights is harder to do here as it’s light until 9 PM at night. The boys are generally in bed before it is dark (remember, summertime!) so taking them to see the lights in the city has proven to be an adventure that we haven’t undertaken yet.
I honestly wasn’t expecting the holiday season to feel different than what we are used to, but with the laidback, less is more approach that New Zealanders seem to take towards Christmas, I find that I am focusing less on the whole consumer aspect of Christmas and more on what this holiday season is truly about.
***Thank you Hanna Andersson for partnering on this post.