Monthly Archives: December 2020

It’s. the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Wellington – Courtesy of Simon Woolf

https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/christmas

Yes, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand there are only two more sleeps until Santa arrives. The excitement in many houses is reaching fever pitch. The neighbours grandchildren are so excited – they are all under ten.

Of course, we recognise how lucky we are – no lockdown and free to go anywhere in the country but not to visit other friends and family around the world. So for many, Christmas will perhaps be not quite as usual.

And because here we celebrate with barbecues, swimming in pools and lazing on beaches, we are keen for the weather to be good on the day. We are told it looks good so far!

And then, because we live so far away from most of you and many will not know that our Indigenous people are Maori who have their own language, I thought I would share this with you –

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A pukeko in a ponga tree

Pukeko
Pukeko

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree

On the third day of Christmas
….
and so on, until…

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five – big – fat – pigs!
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumera
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming

pois dancing
Traditional pois dancing

Definitions

Pukeko = type of bird found in NZ
Ponga Tree = a fern tree that grows in NZ
Kumera = a yellow sweet potato with a purple inside core
Piuspius = a skirt made from strips of flax. They look like hula skirts. They’re worn by the Maori (indigenous people of NZ) during certain dances and special celebrations.
Haka = war chant/dance
Pipis = small shellfish
Puha = a type of sow thistle that is eaten as a vegetable in NZ
Pois = Maori word for ball – they’re two balls on the end of two ropes and they’re twirled around making patterns during some Maori dances
Huhu = a small edible grub or beetle found in NZ.

And a memory from long ago that springs. to mind each year at this time.

Cooked goose

“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!”
Nursery rhyme and Christmas carol (frequently sung as a round)

When I was growing up in London following the end of WW2 we always had goose for Christmas dinner.  Not for us a turkey.  In fact, I don’t ever remember having turkey at home until long after I was married.  Quite late on Christma Eve father would go to the market and buy a goose.  They, of course, were reduced at this time so that’s when he went.

Later, after moving to New Zealand with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman), I remember a particular Christmas at home in London with my family.   By this time, the late 60s, goose had been superseded by turkey and Father in company of his son-in-law, took off as usual to purchase the bird.  Well, these two men purchased the bird and then in a festive mood did a round of various pubs on the way home.

When they did eventually arrive home, much later than expected by Mother for dinner, they were without the bird.  It had been left in one of the hostelries they had visited.  Mother was less than pleased, she didn’t drink and didn’t think it was at all funny.  I had to decide whose side I was on and while secretly siding with Father and DYS I nodded assent and support to Mother.

Some time later, and rather more merrier I might say, they arrived home complete with bird.  Mother was placated, a late dinner was served and much laughter followed. The turkey was served the next day and all was forgiven. And the story of the bird was told on many Christmases that followed.

https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/christmas

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/12/new-zealand-weather-christmas-day-to-be-showery-in-some-parts-as-others-get-sun-heat.html

And in this time of commercialism having taken over Christmas here and around the world, here are a couple of quotes from long ago, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow a long time favourite of mine

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

and another

“And in despair, I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pohutakawa tree
Our NZ Christmas Tree
Image via Wikipedia

And now all that is left is for me to wish you all a Happy Christmas, Hanukkah or however you celebrate this time of the year, wherever you may be. And we can all look forward to a less stressful New Year.