Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both statutory holidays in New Zealand. While Boxing Day is a standard statutory holiday, Christmas Day is one of the three-and-a-half days of the year where all but the most essential businesses and services must close. Many of New Zealand’s Christmas traditions are similar to those of Australia in that they are a mix of United Kingdom traditions conducted in summer. New Zealand celebrates Christmas with very little traditional northern hemisphere winter imagery, mixed with local imagery. The pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), which produces large crimson flowers in December, is an often used symbol for Christmas in New Zealand, and subsequently the pohutukawa has become known as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

For the Christmas gift-bringer’s name, New Zealand uses a variety of names, from Father Christmas to Saint Nick. However as the country becomes more bilingual the Maori name Hana Koko (say Hah-nah- Kor-Kor) is used much more. Hana Koko is not usually depicted in red, however- a green shirt, small black stubbies, a mixed-race appearance and a cone-shaped hat decorated with pohutukawa blossoms. Traditionally people eat a variety of cold foods, combined with a barbecue or Hāngi.

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