Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Have a British (and Kiwi) Christmas

This fun video explains some British Christmas traditions, many of which are shared by New Zealand. Like earlier videos in the series I posted here, it’s an attempt to explain Britain to the USA.

Because of its history, New Zealand shares many customs with Britain; that figures. But nowadays New Zealand also shares some customs with the USA, so it’s a bit between two cultures.

For example, Kiwis refer to both Father Christmas and Santa Claus, but Kiwis would post their letters to him like US kids, not burn them like British kids. But Christmas dinner in New Zealand wouldn’t be even remotely complete without Christmas crackers and, yes, wearing the paper crown is compulsory.

The meal itself is another matter. Some Kiwis will have a roast dinner on Christmas day, but it’s summer here so cooler fare or BBQs are also common. I honestly don’t think there’s one kind of dinner that dominates, though ham often features.

Kiwis don’t usually have British-style Christmas pudding, but one that’s more like Christmas cake (the kind with currants, citrus peel and sultanas). It can be soaked in alcohol, and may even be set alight like the British cousin, but may not be, either. The fruit mince tarts she mentions in relation to the visit by Santa are also common. They are also quite yummy.

Speaking of the Christmas Eve visit by Father Christmas, Kiwis who’ve mentioned it have told me that they left a bottle of beer for him. Apparently the dad of the house would have to drink it, which must have been SUCH a burden…

The Queen’s Christmas Message is broadcast on TV in New Zealand. As an American, I’ve always found to fascinating—the Kiwis I’ve known have been somewhat less enthusiastic. In fact, there’s been the odd bit of laughter directed at me when I insisted on watching HM.

Some miscellaneous points: I’ve talked about Boxing Day many times on this blog. We don’t really do Christmas Pantomimes in New Zealand. Most Kiwis I’ve known take down their Christmas trees pretty quickly. My mother always took ours down on January 6—Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night.

And there you have it: Some Christmas differences between the USA and Britain, with New Zealand being sometimes the same as, or different than, either.

The world is a wonderful place!

“Anatomy of a British Christmas Dinner” – from BBC America
Anglophenia YouTube Channel

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