One thing I really miss about South Africa is Christmas in summer...eating an enormous roast turkey and Christmas pudding and afterwards lolling around the swimming pool. Our Christmas traditions came from the UK and it was only when, after we were living in Europe, that a friend expressed surprise that I was making a salad to eat with the roast instead of cooked vegetables that I realised to what extent we had adapted them to suit our own climate.
Indeed it was only after moving to the northern hemisphere that I realised the point of Christmas, and other similar celebrations. Christmas is supposed to be at the shortest, coldest time of the year instead of the hottest and Easter is supposed to be in spring instead of in autumn. We lived practically on the tropic of Capricorn and it took me a while to get used to the fact, when I moved to the northern hemisphere, that the hottest part of the day was not just after midday, as it was in South Africa, but in the late afternoon, when I expected it to be cooling down. The summer and winter solstice had no meaning for us, as the difference between sunset in summer and winter was about an hour.
I absolutely adore the long summer days that we experience here, but I've never actually celebrated it properly (I'm not exactly the pagan type). Thus it was by chance that I got the opportunity to take part in a summer solstice celebration, thanks to Rowena's drama teacher, Dee, who was organising the torchlit procession. It really was a magical evening (well, except for the midges that were feasting on my delicious blood). I came away feeling somehow joyful, uplifted. A photographer from the Irish times was there, too, and he recorded it:
If you look carefully, you can see Rowena in the background at 1:43, (behind the hand of the woman lighting the torches), 1:23 (between the two people leading the procession), 1:02 (silhouetted in the middle) and in the next photo (from the back, talking to her friend Aisling).