In a 2006 survey Reader's Digest asked a representative sample of 259 New Zealanders ‘Just what does Christmas mean to New Zealanders in 2006 – and what do we treasure most?’
The majority of those surveyed said they felt ‘good’ about Christmas, while 38% went one step further and said they felt ‘excited’. A third of those surveyed were not particularly bothered; 10% said they felt apprehensive, and 3% admitted that Christmas made them feel lonely.
To the question ‘Where would you prefer to spend Christmas?’, most replied ‘at home with close family, extended family or family and friends’. Nearly two-thirds felt that the very best thing about Christmas is spending time with family and friends.
Only 10% of those surveyed suggested that religion was the most important thing about Christmas. While the religious importance of Christmas is respected, its focus has shifted to a family day. New Zealand, unlike many other cultures, doesn’t have a day set aside for family celebration. According to social demographer Bernard Salt, Christmas has increasingly become that day for New Zealanders.
Eating is an important aspect in celebrating Christmas. Some Kiwis take advantage of the fact that it is summer to enjoy their Christmas dinner at the beach with barbecues and picnics. Some of the marketing associated with a ‘typical Kiwi Christmas’ would suggest this is the norm. The results of the survey, however, revealed that 72% prefer a roast dinner – more in keeping with Christmas in the northern hemisphere. An overwhelming majority – 94% – eat Christmas dinner at home, and three-quarters of us prefer it that way.
New Zealanders were asked to vote for the activities they treasure and those that seemed to be on their way out. Just like voting for a favourite song or movie, some traditions made it onto both the ‘what’s hot’ and ‘what’s not’ lists.