Christmas in New Zealand.

For most people in the Northern hemisphere, Christmas means stocking up the firewood for the chilly winter nights, wearing our favourite puffy coat, and stuffing the neighbours’ letterboxes with snow (for us naughty ones). When I still lived in Holland, I remember the early darkness and the warmth of candles and ‘chocolade melk’ filling our Paulusweg house. Although we didn’t celebrate Christmas as much as Sinterklaas, we always had a Christmas tree with glowing silver and red decorations, and a huge bag full of presents to open on the 5th of December rather than the 25th!

But down here in New Zealand, we have a whole different experience during Christmas time. Right now it’s 25 degrees Celsius and the humid air is making us all a little bit sleepy. Most kiwis are wearing shorts and jandals, and drive with their windows open while licking their favourite flavour icecream. We spend Christmas at the family bach, on the beach, or look out at the wonderful views of Aotearoa while sipping a bubbly wine on the deck outside.

In the last couple of days, my family and I attended some local Christmas events, including the Tauranga Lights Trail, and the ‘Road to Bethlehem’ organised by a Seventh Day Adventist Church which walked young and old through the real story of Christmas (where at the end there was a baby Jesus and a real dog in the stable!). And who would’ve thought that we would sing ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Silent Night’ together with hundreds of other people in the local town of Bethlehem, Tauranga, organised by Bethlehem Baptist Church. Although it always feels a little strange for me not having Christmas in winter, when I experience events like these, it always gets me excited for the most wonderful time of the year!

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A few from the ‘Road to Bethlehem’ on a very warm summer evening…

Then our walk to some homes of the Tauranga Lights Trail…

And finally, the wonderful atmosphere of ‘A Night Before Christmas’ at Bethlehem Town Centre…

The night was finished off with fireworks and the famous ‘Feliz Navidad’. Magical! It might have brought a little tear to my eye…

Merry Christmas and a cranking New Year everybody!! See you all in 2013! xx

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