Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas Day in New Zealand is often hot. It’s the middle of summer, a few days after the longest day. Because our two main islands are quite narrow, most New Zealanders live close to a beach. A traditional European Christmas dinner – roast lamb followed by plum pudding – is not so appropriate in summer. Many families prefer a barbecue on the beach. Instead of plum pudding we have strawberries.

The Europeans who settled in New Zealand in the nineteenth century came from Great Britain. They brought their traditions with them and for more than 100 years, Christmas was celebrated by most people here in a traditional European way. People sent Christmas cards with religious pictures of course but many cards had pictures of a snowman or sleighs in the snow. Gift wrapping paper had snowmen, trees with snow on them, or other Northern Hemisphere scenes. These days, in New Zealand we have our own Christmas cards with scenes of a beach or the red flowers of the pohutukawa tree.


• appropriate – suitable
• plum pudding – cooked in a bowl inside a pot. It’s made of a spicy cake mixture with raisins and other dried fruit.
• Hemisphere – half of a sphere i.e. the earth; a sphere is like a ball; New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere
• sleigh – a carriage or cart on skis, pulled by horses; Santa Claus rides in a sleigh with reindeer

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