Census results show that fewer New Zealanders identify as Christian than ever before, and more of us admit to having no religious belief at all. Growing numbers of us are Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. Rugby and the America’s Cup probably inspire more zealotry in New Zealand than any God. Which means that not many of us believe that a supernatural birth occurred in Bethlehem on the 25th of December 2017 years ago.
Santa is the real God of modern Christmas. Images of the baby Jesus in a stable are displayed in shop windows almost interchangeably with images of Santa wreathed in holly and unreasonable, unseasonable snow. I imagine that some kids these days are so confused that they think it’s baby Santa they see napping in the hay. They may well think that the baby, grown paunchy and whiskery with age, has simply moved to cooler climes and swapped his swaddling clothes for red, fur-trimmed long-johns.