At home

Best things about the Kiwi Christmas, from a first timer

After more than two decades of Northern Hemisphere Christmases, one Brit discovers the magic of the Kiwi festive season.

By Ellie Hooper
Don’t get me wrong, winter Christmases are pretty magic. They’re cold, they’re cosy, they’re packed full of more Christmas markets than you can shake a stick at.
In many ways they’re what the festive season ‘should be’ (if greetings cards and festive movies are to be believed.) Snowy and crisp; full of log fires, dodgy knitwear and vats of mulled wine.
Think Love Actually but with a slightly more drunken edge.
But it turns out all these years I’ve been missing out. There’s a deep dark secret Kiwis have been hiding, and it’s that they have the best Christmas ever, for the following reasons...
It’s the actual holidays
OK, we get a few days off overseas too, but we don’t shutdown for weeks on end while people take advantage of the wonderful combination of great weather and family time. It’s like Christmas was meant to be in summer.
Christmas morning at the beach? Yes please
This leads me to my next point. A lot of ex-pats get all nostalgic about spending hours in front of the stove slaving away. Who in their right mind would choose that over slapping some sausages on the BBQ down at the beach?
Bach life
When I worked for a Swedish company, for one month each summer everyone shut up shop, headed up to the lake house and enjoyed some good old fashioned family time. This used to p--- the rest of the European market off, of course, but I actually admired their devotion to that tradition. The Kiwi Christmas reminds me of this, when everyone takes off to the bach for two weeks of sun, sea and no Wifi. I hope it never changes.
Fresh food
It’s summer and that means fresh fruit and veg for salads, puddings and in cocktails. So much better than endless, stodgy frozen desserts.
Fresh fruit beats stodgy puddings any day
Going to the beach on Christmas day
For someone used to shivering their way round a traditional Christmas morning walk – sitting on the beach in shorts does not get old.
It’s like Eton mess but without the wanky private school boy connotations. It’s also way better than Christmas cake.
Pohutukawa trees
It’s like they signal the start of the Christmas season and they just make everything look that extra bit more beautiful. Driving along the cost and seeing all the red, green and blue – you feel pretty lucky to be living somewhere so spectacular.
Christmas attire
Back home, Christmas dinner calls for your finest attire. People wear proper shirts and dresses. I put on eye make-up. That kind of malarkey. Lots of Kiwis seem to take offence at how casual many people dress here. Let me just say – I love it. Ultimately things feel way more comfortable (and real) wearing a beach dress, jandals and a hoodie for the summer evening chill.