How to Celebrate Christmas in New Zealand
Christmas in New Zealand is a bit different than Christmas in the United States. For one thing, Christmas is in summer! Learning how to celebrate Christmas in a different season and in a different country can be tricky. Here's how to celebrate Christmas in New Zealand, according to us.
Learn the Differences
First of all, we needed to learn the differences of celebrating Christmas in New Zealand. Kiwis wear jandals (flip flops), shorts, and t-shirts in preparation for the big day. They bar-b-que up a storm. They bake Pavlova, a merengue dessert, and serve it with loads of whipped cream and fresh berries. Santa is seen wearing a button down short sleeve shirt, shorts, jandals, and sunglasses. Christmas songs have been changed to summer lyrics instead of winter wonderland vibes.
Embrace the Differences
Once we learned the differences, we chose to embrace them. No, Christmas is not the same as what we were used to. But we wanted to embrace the changes and do as the kiwis do. We embraced the warm summer nights. We embraced the silly song lyrics. We embraced the attire. We embraced the food.
Continue Our Traditions
Even though we embraced the differences, we still made sure to stick to some of our traditions. We still baked our favorite Christmas treats. We still watched our favorite Hallmark Christmas movies. We still started a Pixie chain. We still opened our chocolate advent calendars daily. We still acted out the Nativity on Christmas Eve. We still had a delicious Mexican meal for Christmas Eve dinner. We still took the Christmas morning staircase picture. And because we continued our traditions, it felt like home.
Our family has had the tradition of doing 25 Days of Service leading up to Christmas. This allows our family to focus on giving instead of getting. We participated in the #LightTheWorld campaign where we watched a short video each day to remind us the true meaning of the season. No, we're not perfect. Yes, we missed days. But it gave us opportunities to look for service and to be more Christlike.
Our Simple Christmas
Our Christmas was a simple Christmas this year. With our move and world travels just around the corner, we didn't want to collect more things. We told the kids it would be a simple Christmas and not to expect a lot. But it's tricky to still create the magic of Christmas without gifts galore. But we did it!
We had Cody's parent drive up from Wellington to celebrate Christmas with us. They are serving a mission for our church. It was so nice to have family to share the holiday with.
On Christmas Eve, we went to a lovely Christmas church program where we sang lots of beautiful carols as a congregation, we ate a yummy Mexican dinner, acted out the Nativity with a very limited cast & costumes, took a stroll on our backyard beach to get the wiggles out, put milk & treats out for Santa and carrots out for the reindeer, and opened one gift (instead of pjs this year they got water sandals).
On Christmas morning, the kids woke up with excitement and anticipation! Even though they knew Christmas was going to be simple this year, they still couldn't wait to see what they were getting! After our traditional early morning stairs picture, we headed into our Family Room to open stockings and gifts. It was so cute to see how excited they each got as they opened their gifts from each other. It made our parent hearts' so happy! They were all so grateful for each present.
Even though they didn't get as much as they have in the past, they proclaimed this their best Christmas yet! Wow! They said they loved everything they got and that there wasn't any piddly stuff. Lesson learned. I don't think we give our kids enough credit sometimes. Simple is good.
We had a nice lazy day being together as a family and FaceTiming our family in the States. We embraced the kiwi Christmas and b-bar-qued some delicious steak and ate on our folding table and chairs because that's how we roll. Our house is a mess from packing and we our Christmas was different, but we loved the simplicity and the family time. Life is good. And that's how you celebrate Christmas in New Zealand.