Today we begin a 12-day countdown to Christmas Day, featuring Christmas traditions in twelve different countries. It is so unseasonably warm here in the eastern half of the US right now that it reminds me of my childhood Christmases down under in Australia. Instead of Australia, however, we begin our round-the-world journey in New Zealand, just across the Tasman Sea from its larger neighbor. (See my first post on our recent visit to New Zealand here.) Our dear friends Neil and Jill tell us that traditionally, New Zealanders used to pretend it was winter, spraying fake snow on windows and trees and playing wintry American Christmas music. More recently, Kiwis have begun to embrace the fact that "it's summer, for goodness sake!" So rather than the traditional Christmas dinner of roast lamb with mint sauce, you'll just as likely find people barbecuing outdoors or at the beach.
Although fewer and fewer New Zealanders seem to see the primary purpose of Christmas as celebrating the birth of Christ, what Christians who do often find creative ways to breathe life into this special day for believers. Overall, the day is seen as a welcome day off to spend time with family, exchange gifts, and overeat!
Be watching tomorrow for Day 2 of our Round-the-World Christmas!