It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While in the Northern Hemisphere the weather is becoming colder and there’s at least a hope for a white Christmas, the Southern Hemisphere is heading into glorious summer. I’m happy that the long winter and allergy-inducing spring is over, but it is extremely strange to be celebrating traditional fall/winter holidays when it’s 75 degrees and sunny until 8 p.m.
As Halloween is not really a big deal here and is regarded as an American import, and Thanksgiving is (naturally) non-existent, Christmas fever hits stores quite early. However, it’s not officially Christmas until the giant Santa goes up on a corner of Queen Street, the main street of Auckland. Last year the owners of the 60-foot tall statue griped about the cost of erecting the Santa and threatened to skip it, but public outcry and several donations brought the icon back. Though the Auckland Santa is well-known for being “creepy“, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
Though much of the Christmas trappings in New Zealand are the same even when it doesn’t quite make sense (snowflake decorations, festive hot drinks at Starbucks , etc.), some traditions have been changed to adjust for the summer season. The usual Christmas dinner is a barbecue on the beach rather than a big sit-down feast (because who would want to stuff themselves with turkey and carbs in the summer heat?), and the Santa outfit that my work got for an employee to wear came with red shorts lined with white, rather than pants (the coat and hat remained the same).
There are some annoyances that come with a summer Christmas. Because all the schools are out for summer vacation in addition to the holiday, Christmas is the peak travel time for everyone in the country, creating traffic jams and hotels in popular locations being fully booked months in advance. Christmas sweaters are sadly impractical and there will never be snow, even in the South Island. On a more trivial note, all the Christmas eating and drinking does not help anyone have a good beach body either!
Despite all the differences, we’re going to enjoy our Southern Hemisphere Christmas this year. We’re heading to the South Island for two weeks and while the blog won’t be updated during that time, there will be plenty to talk about once we get back!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!