It’s around this time every year that the Fish starts to get nervous. updated – scroll down for video.
The day of the jolly red Santa draws closer. Pagan rituals from ancient Nordic / Celtic times get rejuvenated into a Judeo / Christian mawkish theme park of false bonhomie and pretentious piety, while the whole thing gets overtaken by the corporate marketing budgets of NZ Inc, US Inc, and most of all nowadays, China Inc. We run around, buying presents for relatives we rarely see and really don’t like, eat food that is wrong for the season and hang decorations that mean nothing to no one, in windows that never get seen.
Let’s face it, in foreign lands it may make some sense. In the northern hemisphere, this time of year, it gets dark by 3 or 4 pm, the temperature is cold, and there’s need for hearty roasts and giant legs of ham. As you walk home from work in Copenhagen, Nordheim, or Glasgow, there is a crisp edge to the air, snow flurries settle, and the joys of colourful lights in windows and on evergreen larch trees has a joyful, midwinter, pagan logic to it. Hundreds of thousands of people get together to watch the lights come on in Oxford St, and then after a Christmas break, they get back to work.

(update: ultimate nausea inducing christmas light show added: do you get my point?)
During the northern summer, when they’re all hot and bothered, there are no Christmas parties to attend, no relatives to buy socks for.
But down here in NZ, it has to be confessed, it is a silly time to have Christmas. The summer days are growing longer, so there is less and less darkness to see the lights in the trees, and apart from that awful big sign thing at NZ Post, there is really very little in the way of public Christmas celebrations. And why should we? No one appears to believe in Jesus, let alone Briscoes or Harvey Norman who continue to shout inanities into our living rooms. Honestly, down here, the summer holiday is just not the best time. Bugger it. Let’s Boycott Christmas. No one believes in it anyway.
We’ve taken on Halloween, replete with obligatory orange pumpkins (again, so out of season), and trounced it up with children mincing round dressed as Spiderman and Angels. Mixed messages for someone there. Luckily, we have no excuse to have Thanksgiving – although of all the American fests, that one seems the nicest one to have had. There is no real reason why we shouldn’t let the last remaining few Christians celebrate their God in December, but for the rest of NZ, the apathetic, agnostic, atheist and secular majority, we should move the rest of the festival to the middle of winter, in the depths of June. Let’s just have an antipodean yuletide felicitation during our midwinter solstice, and forget the need for pressies and family stress over the summer break.
In the mean time, we have such anomalies as the tall Telecom Christmas tree, that circles the country despite a lack of all normal tree-like features such as leaves, branches, or roots. The Telecom Tree as it is known does have a fantastic colour scheme, but you have to stay up late to see it. What they tell you is that:
• The Telecom Tree’s height is equivalent to a seven storey building.
• The lights have over 16 million colour combinations.
• The Telecom Tree lights are linked with 156 wires and 20,000 cable ties.
• The anchors at the base of the tree weigh two tonne each.
• The Telecom Tree took seven days to build and required two 80 metre cranes and a team of 15 people.
• The Telecom Tree was designed by Joe Bleakley, the Art Director from King Kong and Lord of the Rings.
What they don’t explain is why they have a few old fashioned red telephone boxes around the base, that went out of service about 20 years ago, rather than the more modern hideous yellow and blue, steel framed telephone boxes that litter the streets today, but nonetheless, kids are encouraged to call Santa on the phones and probably have a nice healthy Coke as well. There’s nothing quite like Christmas to get the corporate habits in swing at an early age. Buy stuff now, and save your country from harm.

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