New Zealand is an amazing place, but as much as we love living there, it has never quite sat right with us that Christmas, being in December (and therefore the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere), is hot.
For us, having grown up in the UK where sleigh-bells ring, snow glistens and gaudy Christmas jumpers have been a ‘thing’ since forever (stemming from over-zealous Nana’s knitting tirelessly through their retirement to make the whole family gifts while simultaneously competing for the title of ‘worst fit possible’), it’s just a bit weird to make the trade-in for barbecues, bikinis and the beach on Christmas day.
We have tried for the past few years to show our Kiwi friends how a traditional ‘white’ xmas is spent, by making the most of the ‘Midwinter Christmas’ tradition, but nothing does a better job of explaining than photos of the real deal…
Christmas in the UK seems to kick off around September, when the malls start playing all the festive songs and adverts everywhere start hassling you to get your shopping done… From December, homes begin decorating with festive lights and decorations, helping to make the place feel cosy and inviting- a welcome respite from the miserable grey outside.
A typical Christmas morning in our family house as kids begun around 6am with the opening up of our stockings, which would have magically appeared overnight and be waiting at the end of our beds… We would sit there, playing with our freshly unwrapped trinkets til the parents woke and it was time for breakfast… Bacon butties. Food of the Gods.
Only after breakfast when everyone is awake and sat down together, is under-tree present opening allowed- patience is a virtue!
Come the afternoon, extended family arrive and the main event takes place: Foooooood.
A traditional turkey roast with all the trimmings; gravy, stuffing, pigs in blankets, cranberry and bread sauce (sounds horrific, tastes divine… hit up our mate, Delia for the recipe… ) all included… Sprouts in our house traditionally prepped by carving each persons initials into the bottom ensuring that all of us at least ate some form of greens…
Main is followed by seconds. Seconds followed by dessert: xmas pudding or cake, mince pies and brandy cream… to fulfil all your boozy fruit-filled dreams.
The over-stuffed party would then move from the table and follow up the big feed with games; Charades and Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly, and binge-watching of Christmas TV- family movies, British comedy re-runs and tedious Christmas specials.
This all fuelled by plenty of alcohol, cozy cuppa’s (also often spiked with a cheeky tipple!) and yep, more food… The evening usually rounded out with clinking ice-topped glasses of Bailey’s and even more grub (cheeseboard, anyone!?) until food comas take us all out.
This year however we were doubly lucky with reason to celebrate two holidays! Coinciding with Christmas for the first time since 1978, in Nat’s house, Hanukkah (the Jewish festival of lights) is also celebrated. Cue the Holiday Armadillo!
The holiday serves to remember the story of a small band of Jews who through a series of miracles, defeated the mighty Greeks who were on a mission to eradicate the religion. One of these miracles was that one days-worth of oil managed to last for a whole 8 days.
So, to celebrate, candles are lit every night for 8 days; beginning with one and adding an extra flame each night til the whole menorah is alight.
And, because every holiday worth celebrating is marked with a signature food, Hanukkah is traditionally served up with fried goodness (The oil connection- geddit?) like latkes and doughnutttttssss. I mean, it’s just the best holiday.
…And that’s how WE do Christmas! How do you spend your day?! Are you a hot or cold fan? Have you ever tried the quite frankly LEGENDARY bread sauce? Let us know, below!