Christmas in New Zealand is completely different from what appears in movies.

In this video we will be talking about Christmas in New Zealand and typical things associated with Christmas, all while putting up a Christmas tree with some special helpers.

What does Xmas mean?

Xmas = Christmas

Xmas is a short informal way of WRITING the word Christmas. Even though the informal way is written with an X, we do not pronounce it as an X as in “X-mas”. We still say “Christ-mas” with the T being silent (it sounds like Chris-mas).

Phrasal Verb – To Put Up

To put up is a phrasal verb that means to construct or erect something.

You put up a tent, you put up a Christmas tree

Put up is a transitive phrasal verb which means it needs an object, you need to put something up. The object can go in the middle of the phrasal verb or at the end.

  • We put up the Christmas tree. (correct)
  • We put the Christmas tree up. (correct)

Putting up the Christmas Tree

One of the most common traditions about Christmas, apart from opening presents, is having a Christmas tree.

A Christmas tree does not magically appear in your living room. No, you need to force your children to put the Christmas tree up …(just kidding)… I mean, it is a wonderful experience for the entire family to share this magical moment together, in unity, putting up the Christmas tree.

And that is what we did today. We put up a Christmas tree.

In our family, the tradition is to put the Christmas Tree up on the 1st of October … no just kidding, the 1st of December. (They don’t let me put it up earlier)

And to help me put up the Christmas tree this year, I had some special helpers. They were not exactly Christmas elves but close enough.

Note: ELF with an F is singular, and its plural form is ELVES with a V.

  • Elf (singular)
  • Elves (plural)

The same happens with the word scarf (that long piece of clothing you wrap around your neck to keep you warm)

  • scarf (singular)
  • scarves (plural)

Types of Christmas Tree

There are two main types of Christmas tree:

You have an artificial Christmas tree which can be reused every year.

Some people have a real Christmas tree which is normally a pine tree that has been brutally cut down.
They smell good, they look good, but you have to buy another one the following year.

As you can see in the video, we have an artificial tree.

You could always use artificial air freshener with the scent of pine if you want that “real Christmas tree” smell.
Or you can just open a can of reindeer meat and leave it sitting under the tree.

Christmas in New Zealand

I am from New Zealand so Christmas is a little different from what you see in the movies.

Santa Claus still wears a fur-lined suit, his red hat and his black boots… but when it is 30 degrees outside, that’s Celsius (about 86ºF), you should feel sorry for him because it must feel like he is in his own portable sauna, sweating away all those excess kilos (we also use kilograms in New Zealand, not pounds).

So, Christmas for us in New Zealand is not snow and fireplaces and ice-skating and ugly sweaters. No, in NZ we associate Christmas with going to beach, wearing shorts, and jandals (known as flip flops in the rest of the world), t-shirts are optional for men, and families often go camping near a beach or river over the Christmas break (the time between Christmas and New Year).

I just had a thought, what type of fur does Santa use? Is it polar bear fur maybe? Kids, next time you get a photo taken with Santa, ask him if it is polar bear fur… and don’t get up his knee until he tells you the truth.

My memories of Christmas

I only remember two Christmases as a child … one when I was around 3 years old and I was given a batman costume… I still remember the toxic smell of the mask… I’m sure it contained rubber mixed with plutonium or something similar… it was quite toxic… but I still loved it.

The other Christmas I remember was when my cousins came from another city to visit us when I was about 8 years old. We all slept together on a mattress on the floor in the living room and there was the smell of a real pine tree throughout the house during the Christmas period. I cannot remember any of the presents anyone got but we had so much fun together. This shows that experiences can create more important memories than getting “things”.

Now that I have my own family, I remember every Christmas and I enjoy watching my kids experience it.

Typical things associated with Christmas

Christmas candy canes: Some people, usually old people, use a cane to help them walk. Many years ago teachers used to use canes to “educate” children that were naughty. Well at Christmas time we have candy canes which you eat and they are sweet and often have a peppermint flavor. Traditional candy canes are red and white though sometimes they come in other colours.

Advent Calendar: This is a type of calendar that is numbered from 1 to 24 for the days before Christmas. Behind each number is a little box or pocket with some type of surprise in it. Usually it is chocolate or some other sweet thing. You open up one number a day to see what special thing you received.

Christmas lights: These are also know as Fairy lights in some countries. This is a long string of small individual lights that are wrapped around the Christmas tree as decoration or to decorate the house. Sometimes these lights are one colour, sometimes they are multiple colours. Often the individual lights flash on and off to make them appear like they are sparkling. Some Christmas lights come with annoying Christmas jingles (music).

Just a recommendation for when you are decorating your Christmas tree… the first decoration should be the Christmas lights as you have to wrap them around the entire tree. If you already have other Christmas ornaments already on the tree, they are likely to get accidentally knocked off the tree while you put the lights on it.

Christmas stockings: These look like giant red socks. Traditionally these would hang from the fireplace of the chimney. On Christmas day children wake up to find Christmas stockings filled with small toys or treats.

Star or Angel: The final decoration that you put on a Christmas tree is the one that goes at the top of it. Usually it is a star or an angel.

Tinsel: a form of decoration consisting of thin strips of shiny metal foil attached to a long thread.


Do you celebrate Christmas?
Do you have an artificial Christmas tree or a real Christmas tree?

Next Activities

See our Christmas Vocabulary in English – Video and Chart

See our English vocabulary about Christmas Traditions and things associated with Christmas.

Putting up the Christmas Tree - Xmas in New Zealand

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