I’ve had many wonderful and unique experiences since moving to New Zealand, but one that was an absolutely novel delight was experiencing a SUMMER Christmas!
I’m used to Christmases full of snow and evergreen boughs, not sandy white beaches, fluffy summer clouds, and blooming Pohutukawa trees. I joined an “orphans” Christmas shindig on Oneroa beach, had a bbq, waded in the beautifully warm waters, and even learned how to play cricket!
While, on the whole, my first Kiwi Kristmas Experience was memorable in the best of ways, I did come across some strange cross-cultural differences that were rather jarring to my Mid-Western upbringing sensibilities.
- No Eggnog. I kid you not – New Zealand doesn’t do eggnog! I only indulge once or twice during the festive season, but dammit I missed those two creamy, alcohol infused, noggy drinks of pure Christmassy goodness. (For all you critics out there, yes, I could have made my own and have in the past, but on a traveling budget, it wasn’t worth the expense and effort to make my own.)
- No Cinnamon Rolls!!! WAH?! What is WRONG with this country?! Every year for Christmas breakfast since I was born we had cinnamon rolls, bacon, and OJ. Alas, for some reason, NZ doesn’t recognize the glorious nomming delectableness that is instant cinnamon rolls. In this case, I simply COULD NOT do without. I attempted to make Cinnamon Dunkers, to mixed success…They tasted ok – not nearly the quality I am used to for my Xmas Brekkie CRs – but were a crumbly mess…Ah well.
- No Decorations or Carols. WTF? No one decorates here! There are no Christmas trees full of shiny balls of hibernating hazard, strands of garlands lining the staircase, stockings waiting to be filled…It really took the spirit out of Christmas to not have these beautiful, visual reminders of what time of year it was (because Lord knows my mind was hella confused with it being 70+ degree weather in December – my mouth kept craving mulled wine and hot chocolate, but then my body was like, girl, do you want to cook from the inside out?).
- No Turkey. People don’t do turkey here. It’s absurdly expensive. And if they even do ANYTHING for Christmas (many people don’t seem to celebrate whatsoever), it’s usually a bbq on the beach. I splashed out and attempted braised lamb shanks for the first time. It was cost effective and INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS. Seriously, one for the cookbook for suresies.
I never imagined I’d be getting sunburned on a beach on a beautiful island at the bottom of the world for Christmas. All in all, I’d say I’m doing something right.