Christmas

A DigitalNZ Story by National Library of New Zealand Topics

Each country has its own unique way of celebrating Christmas. These resources cover traditions, carols, stories, crafts, food, symbols (Star of Bethlehem, mistletoe, Nativity scene, poinsettia) including how Kiwis celebrates Kirihimete.

social_sciences, arts, english, history

Letter to Santa

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Christmas stamp, 1982

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Merry Christmas

Alexander Turnbull Library

Christmas in Bethlehem

Radio New Zealand

Christmas ettiquette

Radio New Zealand

Why Christmas?

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A Christmas carol

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A Christmas pomander

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Christmas

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Christmas

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DIY Nativity scene

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Bethlehem

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Christmas stories

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Christmas in Mexico

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Christmas colours

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The Christmas tree

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Star of Bethlehem

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Christmas lights

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Christmas lunch

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Pohutukawa trees

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Christmas cards

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Summer Wonderland

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Kiwi Christmas

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Christmas

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Christmas In The Park

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First Christmas service in New Zealand

This watercolour by Russell Clark is a depiction of what the first Christmas day service in New Zealand (1814) may have looked like. Early Anglican missionary Samuel Marsden (who had just arrived in New Zealand/Aotearoa), stands on the shore of Oihi Bay in the Bay of Islands at a makeshift pulpit. Beside him is Ruatara, a Ngāpuhi leader who translated the service. Marsden began with a psalm of praise —Psalm 100 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with a gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture…”

Clark, Russell Stuart 1905-1966 :Samuel Marsden's first service in New Zealand. The Gospel of Jesus Christ first proclaimed on these shores by the ...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Christmas pudding

The Christmas pudding is a traditional dessert for the British Christmas dinner. Originally a kind of porridge, it was made of beef, mutton, raisins, currants, spices and wines. The modern Victorian version comprises breadcrumbs, eggs, flour, sugar, butter and fruit. Some cooks would also add a coin to the pudding. This was supposed to bring good luck to the person who found it. This report from 1907 declares the pudding a complete scientific food as well as a customary desert. Eggs provide protein, while suet provides the fat, and bread crumbs and fruit provide carbohydrates along with mineral salts.

CHRISTMAS PUDDING. (Clutha Leader 24-12-1907)

National Library of New Zealand

Christmas holidays

This article provides an insight into events celebrating the Christmas holiday season in Otago in 1893. Carol singing and shopping were the main activities on Christmas Eve. The local hospital celebrated Christmas with decorations, nurses singing carols and a specially arranged Christmas dinner. At the Benevolent Institution men and women were treated to a sumptuous meal. The Industrial School also held celebrations which saw children attend St Peter’s Church. This was followed by a dinner of goose, fowls, plum pudding, and lemonade. Each child also received a toy.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. (Otago Daily Times, 27 December 1893)

National Library of New Zealand

Wellington Santa Parade

Santa Parades began in the early 1900's There were usually held by department stores initially to promote the arrival of their in-store Santa. The Wellington store ‘the Economic’ was the first to parade their Santa. Farmers in Auckland, James Smith’s in Wellington (as shown in this image) and Hay’s in Christchurch are examples of departmental stores that once held popular Christmas parades in the main cities.

Wellington Santa Parade, sponsored by James Smiths Ltd.

Alexander Turnbull Library

Modern demands on Santa

Legend has it that Santa takes his reindeer sleigh around the globe at supersonic speed, sliding down chimneys to deliver gifts to kids around the world on Christmas Eve. But this cartoon tells us otherwise. An elf remarks that times have changed and that gift delivering has been contracted out. Another indication of progress and speed is that Santa now receives wish lists from children on his smartphone. A child from the selfie generation has requested a selfie of him and Santa going down a chimney. While one of the elves wonders who still has a chimney in today’s age of heat-pumps.

Christmas

Alexander Turnbull Library

Christmas don’ts

Gathering around the Christmas tree and opening presents is a tradition most looked forward to the family on Christmas day. However, gift buying and giving can also be one of the many stresses of the festive season. This article from 1911 covers a range of Christmas gift do’s and don’ts. Examples include don’t leave the price tag on a present, don’t overspend, don’t give trashy things, and don’t gift someone only because you expect something in return. Today the ‘rules’ around gift giving at Christmas has not changed that much. However, some new ones include not threatening kids with no gifts at Christmas, and not ‘re-gifting’ a present you received last Christmas!

CHRISTMAS DONT'S. (Clutha Leader 6-1-1911)

National Library of New Zealand

Christmas in New Zealand

This cartoon shows how different Christmas can be in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere under different seasons. Christmas falls in winter in the Northern Hemisphere where snow often blankets the landscape turning it into a white Christmas. However, people in the Southern Hemisphere have created their own unique festive time and traditions in response to summer. Families may gather for barbecues at the beach on Christmas day. Children play in the sand or swim in the sea while others sit in the shade of the flowering pohutukawa trees (New Zealand’s Christmas tree).

"Your cousins in Europe and America feel sorry that you've missed out on a real Christmas" 25 December 2009

Alexander Turnbull Library

Christmas in wartime

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Matariki

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Diwali

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