Friday, December 9, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Jane Beckenham on Christmas Down Under

Author Jane Beckenham is taking over the reins today to talk about Christmas in New Zealand. Take it away, Jane...


An upside down perspective

As Christmas approaches procrastination is at its worst. Normally I'm a real Christmas-aholic. We have at least 3 Christmas trees, all color coordinated of course, the children and I decide what color schemes we want to decorate in at least two months before the big day.

This year the phrase “not interested” has passed my lips. Such horror.

But whether I want the silly season to arrive or not, it's roaring towards me at great speed. No way can I stop the roller coaster and get off.

One of my first memories of Christmas is dressing up as Santa complete with red woolly stockings, a red ribbed wool sweater and using cotton wool for eyebrows and a beard. Now this might not be unusual if I lived in North America, England or the North Pole, but I live in New Zealand and dressing as Santa when the temperature is 80degF or higher is not for the faint hearted.

Over 150 years ago New Zealand was colonized by immigrants mostly from Britain and they brought their northern hemisphere traditions of a white Christmas to our southern shores where Christmas is summer time.

Today (though increasingly rare) you will still see shops decorated with fake snow, Santa dressed to the nines in his red garb and woolly hat and fake beard. Poor guy. Imagine sitting beneath the blazing sun in that lot!

Then there's the Christmas parades, where the crowd is lathered in sunblock. December for New Zealanders is not just Christmas time it's also the end of the school year and our big summer holiday time, so it's a chaotic time of end of year parties, organizing holidays, plus getting ready for the 25th.

Christmas is slowly changing for us. Many no longer have the hot turkey and ham, and the roasted vegies, but are turning to barbecues and salads, no more Christmas pudding but replacing it with our traditional pavlova.(click on the link for a recipe)

Then there's the native Pohutukawa tree which is nicknamed the New Zealand Christmas tree with its scarlet fronds mimicking the traditional Christmas colors. This grows along our coast line and the common train of thought is that if the tree flowers early, we’re in for a good summer!

Christmas means the beach and the surf, bbqs and mosquitoes, and camping, with Santa in board shorts and sandals. Christmas can be a hangi – cooking our food in the traditional Maori way (in the ground). It's making our own traditions as our still young country finds it's cultural path.

Christmas is about watching the children at church with their toys they've just received from Santa, it's about watching Bobby next door ride down the road on his brand new bike Santa managed to get down the chimney. Christmas is about joy and hope for the future, because you see that in the eyes of the children.

And the one thing that hasn't changed is that Christmas is still about family. About being with the ones you love and letting them know that you love them.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Jane Beckenham

Jane Beckenham loves Christmas - really she does! She must do, because she's written two Christmas stories about the power of that special day. Check out Jane's Christmas stories – Desperately Seeking Santa and To Kiss an Angel.

Jane’s latest book – Secrets and Seduction


  1. An English born friend of mine, who has lived in New Zealand for donkey's years now, celebrates two Christmas'. One in December (as do the rest of us) and one in June so she can have that winter Christmas feel.

    Merry Christmas, Jane and have a happy New Year x

  2. Hi Suzie yes we've done that too. LOts of fun.