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The Old Warm vs. Cold Christmas Debate

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 2 January 2012 | Views [3941]

When you are traveling the Southern Hemisphere around the holidays, you are bound to find yourself in a conversation about the difference of Christmas here and Christmas home. I hear all the time “Christmas should be cold” from an American or English person and then an automatic “no it should be hot” back from an Australian or perhaps a Kiwi. I am from the States and an area that is quite chilly come Christmas time. This is my second year celebrating Christmas “down under”. Last year was in Melbourne, Australia, and this year in Queenstown, New Zealand. I feel the need to contribute to this old debate.

I would like to add commentary to the common issues I hear from travelers in this part of the world.

Common Issue # 1 Christmas should be cold. Where is the snow? Okay this will definitely feel true to people from the northern part of the world. It certainly doesn’t make sense to hear songs down here such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”. Instead of holiday shopping in your boots, coat and scarf you are wondering around in sandals and shorts. It is a bit of a shocker when you find yourself soaking in the sun, drinking a cocktail, digging your feet in the sand and then realise that it’s December and it’s all wrong. But it’s pretty great too. Think of everyone cold and bundled up and here you are working on your tan. Of course they will have their laugh when they are hot in July and you are freezing but who cares about that now?

Common Issue #2 Where is the Christmas Spirit? The lights? The decorations? I have most definitely found that there is a lot less Christmas decorations here in Australia and New Zealand. It certainly is not in your face as it is back in the states. You don’t see Christmas lights or homes usually decorated. However, we also need to remember that the summer sun sets a lot later than the winter sun (10:30 pm here in Queenstown!) and there’s almost no point. You won’t find any of those tacky blow up snow globes in people’s lawns (hmmm….is this one really missed?) nor will you see any garland or wreaths on doors. The smell of pine needles is absent as is Egg Nog. The spirit is there, you just need to look a little harder. If you really needed a fix you could visit any shopping center and Santa and a Christmas tree will most likely be there. Towns still organize events on the weekends where you can hear caroling and you will pass Salvation Army instrument players in the street collecting money for charity. The usual holiday sweets are available to buy as well.

Common Issue #3 I’m away from home and don’t have my family! Christmas here is horrible! Welcome to the world of the “orphan Christmas” as we people living abroad like to call it. No, you aren’t with your family because you chose to be away from home for Christmas. No, it will never, ever feel like normal, whether you are used to a hot Christmas or cold. But simply look around and if you are traveling you will find many others in the same boat. Since the weather will most likely be nice you have a chance to have a nice little party, drinking beers, soaking up the sun and barbequing Christmas feast.

Is Christmas better warm? Is it better cold? Really it doesn’t matter. It might appear that Christmas is treated differently on opposite parts of the world but it’s celebrated the same way. People get together with their family, friends, loved ones, open presents and cherish their time together. The only difference is the amount of clothes they are wearing J

Christmas will never feel completely normal for me while I am away. But I understand that this is not necessarily about the weather, but more of the family and friends I am missing. I like that Santa wears a bathing suit here and Christmas roast is grilled not baked. I look very much forward to my next Christmas in the snow, but have really come to enjoy the greatness of a warm holiday. It helped for me to put forth the effort of contributing some Christmas spirit, especially with putting up decorations and a Christmas tree in my home

Another thing to keep in mind is that a warm Christmas is followed by a warm New Year’s. In my opinion this is far superior to a cold one. It’s so much better to be partying at night in the warm weather and have the chance to watch fire works on the beach with your mates. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to put away the past and look forward to the future.

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