First brush of summer

Pohutukawa flower. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) — often called New Zealand’s Christmas tree — produces masses of red flowers from almost white buds throughout summer. Today, the pohutukawa in my neighbourhood are mostly showing white buds. By this time next week, the trees will be thickly painted in feathery strokes of red.

Friday flowers

43 thoughts on “First brush of summer

    • My mother never really got used to it, though she lived here for 25 years. For a long time, Kiwis (and probably Australians too) clung to Northern Hemisphere traditions (like eating roast turkey and Xmas pudding in heat of summer), which isn’t surprising as the whole culture and iconography of Christmas is rooted in it being a winter thing. In recent years we’ve got better at creating our own, more appropriate, traditions and imagery. The pohutukawa is one of the strongest visual symbols of that.

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      • I guess so much of the iconography of Christmas—pine trees, North Pole, a sleigh pulled by reindeer, Santa in a heavy red suit, etc.—is based on Northern European culture that it’s not surprising that we think of it as based in winter. So what do you eat instead? Do you have a traditional Christmas tree? Caroling? etc? (I don’t celebrate Christmas, but certainly know all the traditions.)

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        • Personally, we don’t really bother much with Christmas. There are no little kids in the family at the moment so we tend to just organise a whanau dinner with assorted cousins. My family is mainly in the UK.

          NZ generally embraces all the traditions, but with twists, like adding beach iconography (Santa in board shirts and sunglasses). Christmas trees are common, but often the ornaments are uniquely Kiwi. The traditional roast dinner is very often replaced with a barbecue and salads. Pavlova is our answer to Christmas pudding (I don’t like either, so tend to make berry sorbets and fruit salads).

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