(this blog has nothing to do with farming!)
I hate Christmas. Actually that’s not true, I’ll rephrase that; I hate Christmas in the southern hemisphere.
It is completely pointless being in the middle of the summer. Although it’s currently masquerading as a Christian festival it’s origins are in what came before and was hijacked when they wanted to assimilate the new religion into the conquered lands. Seasons not religion dictated the festivals and Christmas is a mid winter festival. It is all about hibernation, celebration and sustenance and hanging out with your whanau when there’s nothing else to do because it’s shite outside.
The longer I’ve been here the more wound up I have become, as everything is friggin absurd:
The twinkly lights are supposed to be comforting when we lose the light; it’s a joy coming home on the bus at 4pm in the dark on a dreary day looking at everyones cheery efforts.
NZ = you don’t even see the damn lights because it’s light till 10pm……. pointless!!
The food at Christmas is heavy and stodgy, heartening and spicy; it’s supposed to be friggin cold and depressing outside! It’s aim is to sustain and nurture you (pile on a few pounds) hey it’s nice sometime to indulge and doing this in the winter you can hide any extra bulges under thick jumpers and just subtly let out the waist band because its bloody 6 months till summer so you don’t have to worry about it.
NZ = you eat an inappropriate dinner in the middle of the day followed by Christmas pud and then a mince pie or two in 30 degree heat (OK maybe not) and then bursting at the seams you’re then expected to don your togs and happily wobble about.
Decorations Having a pine tree inside in the winter covered in lights is wonderful, the beautiful smell mingling with spices from mulled wine, whiskey or port…there’s nothing nicer.
Having a tree inside in the middle of the summer just makes me grumpy. The kids are running in and out all the time and the doors and windows open creating a thorough breeze that knocks the decorations off the tree and any cards people have sent that you’ve displayed. I find the Christmas stuff just gets in the way of what we’re trying to do as opposed to being a central attraction and you can’t see the lights, in fact ours are barely on as we’re in bed before it’s dark enough!! Again POINTLESS (I sang that)
TV. In the UK in December and January the TV is jam packed with wonderful things to watch. Guilt free you can park yourself in front of the tv all night and watch the same movies you did as a child with your own children, eating chocolate and drinking wine because there’s nothing else to do. When it gets to the winter here I really miss this snuggly, family hibernation.
No time for it this probably doesn’t apply as much to city folk but here us rurals have to make hay while the sun shines. Have you ever thought about that saying and where it came from? No? Me neither! If your job is in the primary sector you basically work your tits off while things are growing, evenings and weekends too. After not being invited to anything for half a year you suddenly have 5 social events each weekend and It’s also the bloody end of the school year so you’re frantically trying to support your children with their shows, pet days, trips, prize giving’s but it’s hard to really enjoy them because of the mental load of everything else you are carrying. No matter what line of work you are in it seems everything has to be done before Christmas all this coupled with all the stress of any potential up and coming family sagas. This means the 6 weeks running up to Christmas everyone in NZ is running round in a state of deranged hysteria and we accepted it as normal? No wonder we have to shut down for 2-3 weeks for everyone to calm the hell down.
If the celebrations happened IN THE WINTER there’s not much else on, so not only can you attend everything you can enjoy it, livening up a pretty bleak time of year. Plus anyone who works in farming has got spare time on their hands, hurrah!
Community support, winter time is hard on people who are struggling. Having to often choose between heating your house or putting food on the table or buying new shoes some of that Christmas cheer would probably be welcome then. I don’t want to minimize huge social problems but I often think that when all that community Christmans spirit is about that living in summer is naturally a bit easier; in season fruit and veg is cheaper, you don’t have to heat your home and you can get away with flip flops. While hardship is by no means seasonal, winter can be brutal with people feeling isolated and lonely on top of having to make tough survival choices. Community hot lunches and food relief are essential in winter to provide some kind of sustenance to the body and soul to try and help people make it through lighter days.
I’m equally grumpy at Easter; a SPRING festival and Halloween and Guy Fawkes, both AUTUMNAL festivals. Guy Fawkes is completely irrelevant on many fronts, we are celebrating the hang, drawing and quartering of a Catholic and seeing as there are many Catholics here who’s origins come from escaping persecution in their own country by the crown it seems idiotic that we uphold such a colonial tradition here. Plus you have to keep the kids up super late to watch any fireworks…..and there might be a fucking fire ban on (emoji of brain exploding)
While it’s a festival we celebrate in the UK there are hundreds of smaller regional traditions and festivals at this time of year (Autumn) involving fire that are steeped in medieval history and are seasonally and culturally relevant and quite magical.
I was speaking (ranting) to a friend the other day about this and she commented that even though she grew up in NZ, As an adult she lived in France for 2 years and Christmas suddenly felt right, “it must be primeval” she said, and that is how I feel, that here in NZ we ignore our primeval seasonal yearnings and instead choose to continue to wear old, ill fitting clothes.
Lets face it, it’s colonial bullshit. Getting on a boat, knowing you’ll never see home again, it’s understandable that you’d desperately cling to your traditions and want to pass them down, but perhaps do it in the correct god damn season? Every year it just feels more and more like the northern hemisphere clumsily ramming their festivals on us but in this hemisphere they are just meaningless and silly.
Imagine my surprise after a few years of being here when I discovered there was something called Matariki! I was flabbergasted “why don’t you celebrate it, it’s seasonally and culturally appropriate?”
I solely credit myself with bringing about our wonderful new public holiday, not by partitioning my local MP or anything sensible like that but with the sheer volume of grumbling, moaning and griping I’ve done over the past 10 years to anyone and everyone who will listen, given half a chance.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the events we attended as a family celebrating it this year and I also must admit to hijacking it with a few twinkly lights, mince pies and mulled wine! Let’s keep pushing and scrap guy Fawkes altogether and move the fireworks and sparklers to where they belong; the seasonal start to a New Year.
I’m not suggesting for a moment we don’t enjoy the summer, enjoy the BBQs and the time with our families. That kiwi summer break is a tradition that we should definitely hold onto but perhaps we dispense with the lights, trees, tinsel and other midwinter nonsense.
Lets shed these pointless colonial clothes that haven’t fitted for a while and put something on that feels right.
Meri Kirihimete me te Hape Nū Ia!