Being in the southern hemisphere is a bit disorienting. The face of the moon is unfamiliar. The best sun exposure is to the north. And it’s full-on summer here, just when things are getting most frigid—and festive—at home.
So how do the Kiwis celebrate? One lovely tradition is called Carols by Candlelight. Throughout Auckland—perhaps New Zealand—families gather when the sun goes down (about 8:30) in parks and on beaches to light candles and sing songs of the season. Here on Waiheke, the gathering took place on a neighboring beach and featured, among other things, a local church choir, a brass band, an American folk singer, drummers and fire dancers, and hundreds of people scattered on blankets along the curving bay. In a true celebration of diversity, some held Bibles while others went BYOB. We sang along and struggled to keep our candles lit in the wind. It was mostly impossible. But the glow of the night was undiminished and we felt, in a small way, utterly connected to the most meaningful holiday moments we are missing at home.