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The History of Christmas in New Zealand

The first Christmas celebration in what would become the nation of New Zealand was in 1642 after Abel Tasman's ship arrived. The weather was bad and the crew ate a pig from the ship's supplies. The next such feast in New Zealand was over 100 years later.

The next celebration of Christmas in New Zealand occurred during James Cook’s first expedition in 1769. The crew of the Endeavour marked the occasion by feasting on ‘Goose pye’ for their Christmas dinner while battling heavy seas off the tip of the North Island. There were no geese, so the crew had to improvise – with the magnificent gannet that had been shot in preparation for the feast by the ship’s noted botanist, Joseph Banks.

Apparently the Endeavour’s crew spent Boxing Day ‘nursing hangovers’. The Boxing Day tradition of suffering from Christmas excess clearly has a long history in New Zealand.

This is just one anecdote on the history of Christmas in New Zealand. Metafilter has a list of links that tell of New Zealand traditions of Christmas foods, games, parades, music, and more.

(Image credit: National Library NZ on The Commons)


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