Around the time of late June or early July, Kiwis use the cooler temperatures and the rain as a brilliant excuse to retreat indoors for a “Mid-Winter Christmas.” I have to say that winter without the perk of a festive holiday is a bit lame, so I am totally all in favour of the Mid-Winter Christmas.
We were blessed enough to be invited to not one, but two “Mid-Winter Christmases” over the past 2 weeks. Brendon and Dan, our friend and fellow Edmontonian, also concur that Mid-Winter Christmas in NZ is a glorious thing.
A lovely first “Mid-Winter Christmas” feast was organized by our cool Kiwi Friends Kyle and Bea, and their friend Georgia.
A second and very festive “Mid-Winter Christmas” was organized and hosted by Bea and her lovely flat-mates, who did an amazing job of seating 25+ people in their living room.
The traditional Neilson family holiday essential, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows, made its appearance at both festive gatherings. It quickly took on the name “candied yams” by the Kiwis, and despite some scepticism, it was a bit hit around the table.
On both occasions, Dan was called upon to carve the bird, and did a magnificent job.
The most significant conclusion I have come to regarding the differences in the way these two land masses celebrate Christmas is that in North America, it is a time of coming together. Coming in from the cold to warm, festively decorated houses where people gather in for sole purpose of enjoying one another’s company and eating good food. After all, what else is there to do when it’s 30 degrees below zero and there’s a foot of fresh snowfall covering your walkway? Kiwis do Christmas another way; it is a time of getting out and away; a time of laid-back lounging by the seaside or extreme sporting, experiencing all the splendor that the natural world has to offer during the peak of its summer weather.
While the thought of Christmas in July has previously brought to mind the unappealing image of plump, long-haired Santas on surfboards sporting their shorts and shades, the Southern Hemisphere’s rendition of Christmas at this time of year is the closest thing I have yet to experience that resembles the inviting, enchanting season of Christmas back home.
Until we return to snowy, white Christmases in Canada that naturally occur in the middle of winter, the NZ mid-winter Christmas will definitely do!