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the silly season in the antipodes

Tahunanui Beach, December 2020, Sylvie GE
One of the things I found  most difficult to adjust after arriving in New Zealand is the silly season. I was trying to enjoy summer time, the sun, the lightness of it all, but to no avail. I wanted dark weather, Christmas lights, snow, cold and everything that went with the Christmas spirit I was used to. My colleague from Scotland fully agreed with me: Christmas is much better in the northern hemisphere, we both told one another. And so I plunged, as soon as I heard a Christmas song in a department store,  into a sad nostalgia that  could only be  shaken off when all the Christmas trees had gone.

Over the years, my rigid mental attitude around what constitutes an acceptable Christmas has changed. I slowly started  enjoying the lightness of the New Zealand silly season, the holiday atmosphere, the beach, the sparkling wine in the sun, the less light, less gifts, less food (unfortunately, since I have arrived,  New Zealand has caught up  with the excesses of other countries), a lightness that I began to appreciate, of course, provided   I didn't see a Christmas tree and didn't hear any festive music, which still causes my immediate departure from wherever it is coming from.

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing photos from New Zealand's summer to get you into the Antipodean holiday spirit.

le temps des fetes aux antipodes

plage Tahunanui, decembre 2020, Sylvie GE

Une des choses auxquelles j’ai eu le plus de mal à m’adapter à mon arrivée en Nouvelle-Zélande est le temps des fêtes. Je tentais d’aimer l’été, le soleil, sans succès. Je voulais un temps sombre, des lumières dans la noirceur, de la neige, du froid et tout ce qui allait avec l’esprit de Noël tel que je le connaissais. Mon collègue qui venait d’Ecosse était d’ailleurs tout à fait d’accord avec moi : Noël, c’est bien mieux dans l’hémisphère nord, nous plaignions-nous en chœur. Et je plongeais donc, dès la première chanson de Noël entendue dans un grand magasin dans une triste nostalgie que je n’arrivais à secouer qu’une fois les sapins de Noël disparus.

Au fil des ans, mon schéma mental rigide autour de ce que constitue un Noël acceptable a changé. J’ai fini par apprécier la légèreté du temps des fêtes néo-zélandais, l’atmosphère de vacances, la plage, le mousseux au soleil, le moins de lumière artificielle, moins de cadeaux, de nourriture (malheureusement, la Nouvelle-Zélande semble s’être depuis alignée sur les excès des autres pays au temps des fêtes), tout cela donnait une légèreté que j’ai commencé à apprécier, tout cela, bien sûr, à condition de ne pas voir de sapin de Noël et de ne pas entendre de musique festive, qui provoque mon départ immédiat de l’endroit.

Dans les  jours qui suivent, je partagerai des photos de l’été néo-zélandais pour vous mettre un peu dans l’esprit des fêtes aux antipodes.


Near the cathedral in Nelson, winter 2021, Sylvie GE
Worker. They are called the "tradies" in New Zealand, skilled workers who often own a white van where they put all the tools they need. Last week, one of them came to install a heat pump to put an end to the cold in the apartment, a great joy for me, but I was afraid of the interruption (well established in my habits). So he arrived early in the morning and got to work. He had to make a hole in the concrete wall first. A few minutes later, a round hole appeared in the wall. He came to see the result, inside and couldn't suppress a big smile at the sight of a job well done. It gave me joy for several days to see someone who has been doing their job for twenty-five years and who still enjoys the same pleasure in seeing a job well done. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have rarely seen the same thing in my 20-year career at university.