Time to embrace Kiwi Christmas culture

by Andy Bryenton

It’s now pretty well established that the celebrity of the Christmas season (a small child from Bethlehem, Israel) was not born in the middle of a northern winter.

In fact, with shepherds on the hillsides, a climate suited to robes and sandals, and a trio of ‘wise guys’ popping into the al fresco accommodation to deliver presents, the nativity is looking more and more like a Kiwi Christmas.

We’ve got a lot to be proud of when it comes to our Yuletide festivities.

There’s another thing, of course. Old Yule, and the image of a bearded man in furs who epitomises the season with snow and a big dinner, actually refers to Odin the old Norse god (and dad of Marvel’s blondest Avenger). One of his names was Jolnir, the ‘Yule Father’ or Langbardr ‘old long beard’.

The real Saint Nicholas? He lived among pirates and sailors in Turkey, rather than carving the turkey. So, another Christmas icon who would be up for some beach cricket and a bit of a barbecue (also invented by pirates).

We’ve lived in the shadows of frosted pine trees (a German tradition) and dancing snowmen for too long. It’s time to admit it to ourselves; a New Zealand Christmas is just better. A long, leisurely lunch sizzling over the charcoal. The best excuse ever to have a cold beer with uncles, cousins and friends and discuss the cricket. Pohutukawas overhead and the option of a quick swim, half an hour after pudding, of course.

The kids can play with their new presents outdoors, which is a blessing for those that come with repetitive whooping and exploding sound effects (or for parents foolish enough to have bought this year’s hot item, the Baby Shark singing soft toy). Right after Christmas, our northern relatives have to head back to grim, icy workplaces in the middle of winter. We get a couple of weeks to go fishing and finish off the leftovers.

So here’s an idea. Let’s go all out with the Kiwi trappings of Christmas at this time of year. Santa in board shorts. Festive pina coladas. Carving the Yuletide pavlova. We can export ‘midsummer Christmas’ to the north while we’re at it, and enjoy all the wintertime treats like glazed hams, plum puddings and roasted chestnuts in July for Matariki.