January 08, 2009

So this is was Christmas

This past Christmas was our third here (third! can you believe it?!), and the warmest year yet. It was so (unusually) warm, that I just couldn't bring myself to decorate the house in the typical holiday fashion. We lean more towards the pagan celebration of winter solstice than the religious holiday of Christmas, so it was a bit weird for me to think about putting up a tree, furry stockings and greeting cards with snow scenes when summer was just beginning.

Darren and I thought we could perhaps put up more of a 'summery' tree (which still is against the whole point anyway), and did manage to find some cute summer-themed ornaments and fake Pohutukawa blossoms.

Pa-hoo-a-wha? Right - the Pohutukawa tree. Also known as the "New Zealand Christmas Tree", as it is endemic to New Zealand and the bright red flowers bloom right around Christmas each year. From a distance, they bear a resemblance to Poinsettias. Up close, however, you'll see that the flowers are made up of lots of little hair-like strands that definitely look like hair when they fall to the ground. Our friend Arthur highlighted these beautiful trees in a post/video(around minute 2:10) on his blog.

The trees can be found all over Wellington and gave me just one more excuse not to decorate. Instead, we took heaps of pictures:











Not so pretty once the blooming period is over. Luckily, the tree is just a large green tree the rest of the year (it is an evergreen).

We spent part of Christmas day with our friends Darrel and Merrin, playing Apples to Apples and eating a large BBQ'd dinner. Sorry there is no photographic evidence of the lovely day - we were too busy eating Merrin's yummy food!

As usual, most of Wellington shut down (especially restaurants and shops) and buses and trains were free to ride all Christmas day. Even though we are a week into the New Year, many restaurants and cafes are still closed while their proprietors are taking holidays overseas or just out of town in a bach. And while it is nice to live in a country that doesn't frown on any holiday over 2 weeks long, I really reeeeeaaaally miss my favorite sushi place!

Some cafes won't be opening up again, sadly, due to the difficult economic times. I saw this sign today while trying to find a poor substitute for my beloved sushi:




3 comments:

Blaise said...

I've been a long time reader of your blog (it inspired us to start our own) and it's funny how many similarities we've noticed :) It's only our first Christmas here, but we just couldn't get into the "traditional" North American Christmas spirit when people were bringing strawberries and BBQ'ing for Christmas dinner. It didn't make it any less fun (more so in fact because we spent it with new friends) but it was slightly offputting to have to wear shorts and a T-shirt.

I noticed some closures around Newtown as well, Post-Expresso for example :(

Overall I've noticed that a lot of shops turn over quickly here, more so then I'm used to in NA. Is this a recent phenomenon?

PS: funny enough, we ended up playing tons of Apples to Apples this holiday as well :) Must be a new trend.

Great blog!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Loved the pohutukawa pics! Can't seem to get enough (I sense an annual theme coming on…). You'd think I'd be used to Christmas in NZ by now, but no. Still, just between us, I don't miss the cold and frozen Christmases I grew up with!

I have absolutely no idea what Apples to Apples is…

d said...

Hi Blaise,

Thanks for your comment!

As for shops turning over, I think it's something we've noticed since we moved that seems to be more common here, but even moreso now with the current economic troubles. I think it's largely due to the government being fairly lenient on small businesses failing. Kiwis tend to have the "give it a go" attitude, even if thing ultimately don't work out.

Apples to Apples rocks! :)


Arthur,

Yeah, I understand both the desire for the Christmas season to be cold, and the fascination with the beautiful pohutukawa blooms.

Apples to Apples? It's a very simple card game - too long to explain here, but one day we'll have to play with you and Nigel. :)