Tag Archives: Easter

Our Easter in New Zealand

Easter in New Zealand tends to be a much quieter, less commercial affair than it is in North America. That being said, Andrew and I had intentions of still having our normal traditions and Easter. Life, it seems, did not cooperate this week.

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We ended up both scheduled to work for most of the weekend, making Friday our only day to celebrate and enjoy the Easter festivities. Andrew and I also set up our own Easter egg hunt in the house, with everything kept well out of reach of the cats!

Easter chocolate!
Easter chocolate!

Our landlord’s daughter invited us to their section to join them and their family in their festivities; we were quite looking forward to the lunch.

Easter Breakfast
Easter Breakfast

Unfortunately, near the top of the hill on the way to their place smoke started to issue from the engine and our van stalled. We sat in the middle of the highway with our hazard lights on in the rain (a tropical cyclone had hit Thursday) until a nice group of ladies stopped to help us push the van up a hill to a nearby pullout. Very grateful for their help!

Looking out on the rainy bay where our van stalled
Looking out on the rainy bay where our van stalled

Our landlords son-in-law came to get us once we managed to find cell phone reception and we arrived as everyone was finishing lunch. We dried off and came up with a plan.

At Shelly's Section for lunch
At Shelly’s Section for lunch

Our landlords took us back to our van, refilled the radiator, and we tried to start the van. No luck, unfortunately. We called the AA (New Zealand equivalent of the Alberta Motor Association, or AMA) and they decided to send a service vehicle out. They also asked us to wait where we had reception in case the driver got lost, which meant 45 minutes standing in the rain and wind.

Tow Truck in the dark
Tow Truck in the dark

Once he arrived, he looked at the van, tried to start it, and ordered us a tow truck…which meant another hour of standing in the rain. The tow truck arrived, loaded our van, and offered to drop it off at the mechanic.

Andrew making S'mores
Andrew making S’mores

We got home very cold and wet, built a fire, had a hot shower, and spent the rest of the night before bedtime trying to figure out how much we could afford to spend to fix the van. In an attempt to salvage the day, we also finished the day with s’mores in the fireplace 🙂

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The mechanic was closed until Tuesday, which for us meant riding our bikes in the remains of the tropical cyclone. Lots of rain, wind gusts, and some surface flooding. It also meant spending each day at work in cold, wet shoes. Not a fun way to spend Easter!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Andrew fortunately had Monday off so was able to cook us our own Easter dinner . He also had a nice cozy warm fire ready when I got home. My pants were wet enough that they started steaming as soon as they were hung by the fire! We had roast chicken and pumpkin with mashed potatoes and wine. I also made hot cross bun cheesecake for dessert, which was delicious.

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There were certainly bright moments to the weekend, but most of it was quite stressful and miserable. We were quite glad for the assistance and support that we got over the weekend and are hoping that next Easter is nowhere near as stressful!

Holiday Comparison North vs. South

Having been raised in the North (Canada, specifically), the swap of seasons upon moving to the southern hemisphere is somewhat disorienting. There is no time of the year that it becomes more apparent that the “big holidays” are from the north than by seeing the disparity in the swapped seasons.

Halloween

Generally seen as North American,  this holiday is widely celebrated across Canada and the USA by decorating, pumpkins, spooky houses, costumes, and trick or treats.

Dressed up for Halloween
Dressed up for Halloween

Every city in Canada that I have lived in has had countless houses with pumpkins and we have always had kids visiting our door. Even when on a work trip to the USA during Halloween my colleagues and I picked up candy to hand our to the kids trick or treating in the apartment we had been lodged in.

Halloween evening
Halloween evening

In the southern hemisphere,  however,  this holiday falls in the middle of spring.  It is bright and sunny until 9:30pm. Trick or treating is done in some communities, but even then it doesn’t have the same feel to be running around in broad daylight. Forget pumpkins too…those were just planted and won’t be read for another 4 months! We did see someone try to get into the spirit by carving a pumpkin squash…into quarters!

Christmas

Ah…turkey, Santa Claus, cozy fires, and snow. Almost every Christmas show or movie has snow and winter. Christmas lights too.

In New Zealand, however, it is far too warm to cook a big meal and people just aren’t interested! It’s bright until 11pm so Christmas lights aren’t all that effective and lose some of their magic. Christmas itself is generally spent at the beach with a picnic dinner and relaxing in the pool, lake, or ocean.

Summer Christmas
Summer Christmas

We have shared homes with quite a few host families during the festive season and not a single one had put up any kind of decorations. Stores start carrying some Christmas candies and goodies starting mid-November, but it isn’t nearly the commercial spectacle that it is in Canada or the USA.

Where we spent Christmas 2015
Where we spent Christmas 2015

Dunedin, where we are living at the moment, has both a Santa parade and a Santa run, both of which Andrew and I are going to try to participate in if we can get the time off work. I’m looking forward to seeing what a different family and another region do for the holiday season.

Trying Mulled Wine
Trying Mulled Wine

There is a midwinter carnival, a polar plunge, and other wintery activities, but these are far removed from any religious or iconic holiday being that they take place in the middle of June!

Easter

Easter…spring, bunnies, colourful Easter eggs, little baby chicks. Family gathers over an Easter Ham and it’s a chance to get outside and enjoy being together after a long, cold winter. In North America at least!

Easter Chocolate

In New Zealand, Easter marks the start of Autumn. Fall harvest, corn, pumpkin soup, cooler days, and leaves changing colour. There is also almost no commercial celebration of Easter and, apart from days off to celebrate, no mark of the event for many New Zealand families.

Stores had no egg-dying kits and most locals that we talked to had vaguely heard of decorating Easter eggs but had never done it themselves. The kids were interested in trying, but it was difficult to get the supplies together to do so! There aren’t really convenient packages of food-dye either, so each colour needs to be purchased individually.

Tempting Easter Chocolate

A couple of places had small chocolate Easter bunnies, but nowhere near the level of commercialization as North America. It was somewhat refreshing actually, for all that I did miss the chocolatey goodness of Easter morning.

Thanksgiving

For those of us who grew up in Canada or America,

Maple Trees in the Park
Maple Trees in the Park

Thanksgiving is the start to the holiday season. Although the two countries celebrate it in different months and for different reasons, the holiday itself looks remarkably similar in both countries. It is a day to gather with family and friends, usually over a large roast turkey, and to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

This holiday, however, does not really exist in many other parts of the world. It was entertaining educating our hosts and sharing the tradition with them, from the big meals, turkey, and sweet potato pie, to the simpler things, like being grateful for what we have.