The colours of a New Zealand Christmas

Nature provides us with seasonal decorations – all around the area where we live. Pōhutukawa

My social media is flooded with Christmas photos, mostly from cold, northern climates. But I thought, as I drove through my local town, the colours of a New Zealand Christmas are red, blue and yellow. Bright red, blue and yellow because of the clear light that characterises this country.

Pōhutukawa come in every shade of red. The yellow is much less common and not as spectacular in the landscape but has a charm of its own.

The pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) are commonly referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree though their climatic range does not extend the full length of the country. This is the time they all come into flower for a brief but impressive few weeks.

Lovingly crafted and gifted from our daughter

I am not great at Christmas decorations (and Mark’s efforts are limited to the Christmas table flowers). There doesn’t seem a great need for them when we live surrounded by flowers and foliage just outside every window. With no little ones in our life at this time, and indeed no big ones this year with no international travel possible, the box of decorations will likely stay in the Harry Potter cupboard beneath the stairs. In the interests of festive spirit, however, I have brought out the exquisite three kings in crochet that Elder Daughter made for me. And planking Santa and yoga Santa are making their annual appearance.

Planking Santa and yoga Santa – pretty much family heirlooms now.

Spare a thought for Melania, though. There are words I never thought I would say.

After the black and silver gothic horror of her first efforts decorating the White House,

followed by her bizarre attempts at designer red – quickly transformed on social media to figures from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’,

this year she went with a more traditional theme. I might not have taken much notice of this were it not the headline I saw from Mashable: “Melania Trump unveils her final White House Christmas decorations and they’re fine.

Talk about being damned with faint praise, tinged with relief!

Lightly decorated though our house will be and few in number sitting down to Christmas treats (few? What am I talking about? Just two) ours at least will be a Christmas of colour, light and flowers.  I may have to dig out the CD we have of reggae Christmas carols as the background soundtrack to Christmas zoom calls with the children, just to make them groan and remember the days of childhood Christmases.

13 thoughts on “The colours of a New Zealand Christmas

  1. Paddy Tobin

    Oh, my goodness, the pōhutukawa planted at the side of the road, with that gorgeous sky as backdrop, are so perfectly beautiful.

    We have put up our Christmas tree and a sprinkle of the traditional decorations around the house and that is enough for the two of us. We have a Santa Claus which stands to the side of a fireplace with his hand extended, holding a biscuit for a dog, but has held a little treat for our grandson whenever he visited in previous years. He would dash to this Santa as soon as he entered the house to see what had miraculously appeared for him. Not this year, I’m afraid. Santa will have to travel to him.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Yes, Christmas 2020 is happening in different world to that of 2019, isn’t it? May it bring you blessings and peace in new ways.

  2. Elaine Bolitho

    Thank you Abbie for your beautiful, thoughtful post. May you and Mark experience the blessings of Advent and Christmas this year.

  3. tonytomeo

    Pōhutukawa is known simply as the New Zealand Christmas tree here, even though it blooms half a year from Christmas locally.They all bloom with the same rich burgundy red, which, by itself, is excellent. A bit of variation would be interesting though. (They may be a cultivar.) Christmas in summertime is such a foreign concept, but then, I dislike most of the Christmas traditions anyway. It think that even tasteful decoration of the White House by former First Ladies has traditionally been somewhat excessive. However, although I did not like the Obama Presidency at all, I think that Mrs. Obama did very well with her decoration of the White House, . . . and everything else.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Must be the same clone to all be the same colour because they vary hugely in the wild – from red brown to all shades of red through verging on the orange hues. They spread by seed here so there is much seedling variation.
      I can not say that the White House Christmas decorations have ever attracted much international attention until the last four years – or at least they have never been given coverage that has come to my notice before. But that could be said about much of your government’s operations across the board. I think we are all very much more informed now and I am not sure that is a positive!

      1. tonytomeo

        Although it is not known by a cultivar name, I suspect that it is all of the same clone, even if unnamed. (It is known only by the species name.)
        Coverage of the White House Christmas decoration probably got less coverage before because it was not so sensationally interesting. It is a tradition that all other ‘First Ladies’ took very seriously. Even Mrs. Clinton put forth the effort to at least try to do it properly. Of course, Mrs. Bush did it very well. Mrs. Obama was the best thing to happen to the White House since Mrs. Kennedy, regardless of the quality of the presidency of the time! To go from that to Mrs. Trump (again, regardless of the presidency) was just weird. I like to think that she tried, but . . . . that was just weird . . . to the extreme.

      2. Abbie Jury Post author

        This is an interesting insight. But presumably all the presidents’ wives are advised by designers and then a host of minions who translate the paper plan into reality (under supervision by the designer) so the task would not be as onerous as, say, decorating our own tree at home.

      3. Abbie Jury Post author

        I would guess Mrs T pulled rank and demanded ‘something different’. And nobody in that White House seemed willing to disagree with any ideas from Mr or Mrs T.

  4. Angela

    I find it really difficult to cut flowers from our garden for vases as they look so lovely in situ. Perhaps my next project should be a cutting flowers area?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I am with you – especially cutting bulbs. And they last longer in the garden than in a vase. I cut roses because I moved all the scruffy plants over to Mark’s vegetable garden. And I cut lilies because we have so many that a few here and there don’t leave a gap. But that is about it. I can see the arguments for a cutting garden but flowers indoors don’t seem so important when we live surrounded by flowers outside.

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