Spring in Autumn

Image: DTTSP

Image: DTTSP

I have Seasonal Identity Disorder. Ok, I made that up; there’s no such clinical disorder (not yet), but it’s a thing, really it is. Keep reading and you’ll see.

It’s autumn here. It’s brought a bit more rain and the leaves are turning glorious shades of golden orange and deep red. The days are mild and the nights are cool. The grey, rainy days aside, it’s mostly a nice time of year.

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to host an autumn picnic and so I went shopping for some decor. I was looking for pretty items such as cornucopias, gourds, leaf-shaped platters, golden-coloured wine glasses – if you’ve been to Target in America, you know what I mean. Apparently, that’s not a thing here in Oz. Target, K-Mart, the arts and crafts shops, the fabric stores, and so forth didn’t have any new, seasonal stock for autumn. That’s okay; now I know and I will be prepared next time to be more creative. I think the reason may be that there are no major autumn festivals to decorate for. Australians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and Halloween, while a harvest festival, is still celebrated in October, which is in the spring.

There is one major holiday approaching: Easter. So, while it’s autumn and it’s getting cooler and the leaves are turning colours and dropping from trees, it’s a good time of year to stock up on spring-themed decor. Shops are now full of pastels, bright baskets, bunny figurines, and so forth. I wonder whether Aussies consider Easter a spring festival celebrated in autumn, an autumn festival with spring themes, or if they think about it at all. Perhaps they simply accept it as a Christian holiday and don’t much consider its seasonal origins and symbols.

Back in the States, not being a Christian, I took only a secular approach to Easter though, as a Pagan, I observed the spring equinox. In Australia, I have to divorce these two festivals, just as I have to divorce Christmas from the winter solstice, and Halloween from autumn. And that feels strange because these festivals are rooted in their seasons and that’s how I have always experienced them. I wonder if those lack of connections with the land and seasonal changes contribute to what I perceive as a general lack of enthusiasm for holidays here. I mean, how can you muster up genuine excitement for rebirth and renewal when everything around is wilting and dying?

Do you feel comfortable celebrating seasonal holidays outside their seasons? How do you make that work for you?

Comments

comments

8 Comments

  1. The enthusiasm is there if you look for it in other holidays, such as Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup Day in Victoria, are certainly enthusiastic, and even seasonal if viewed in a particular way. I try to look beyond the big ‘Christian’ holidays which in Australia are mostly secular anyways and look at other cultural celebrations which tie in with seasons. Growing up, the primary school sports carnivals were always held in Spring, so the smell of fresh cut grass in spring always gets me excited as it triggers those memories, which also tie in with the grand final in AFL, which also has massive cultural implications as I’d imagine you’d gather living in Melbourne!

    A lot of SH pagans have written quite a lot about their connection to the seasons and the land, there are quite a few books and guides written online, and if it’s not too weird I’d like to refer to my tongue in cheek article about the celebration of Easter 😉 http://www.chaoswitch.com/easter-for-southern-hemisphere-pagans/ I just love chocolate and love emphasising that aspect which fits in with our coven’s Samhain celebrations.

    • Great piece. Now that you mention it, it is an excellent time for the chocolate ritual (I’d probably change it from Nestle to Cadbury). One reader on Facebook made two great observations. One was about Anzac Day and how that’s pretty close to ancestor veneration and the other is that the Spring Racing Carnival season has a wonderful Beltane energy about it. You’re right; the enthusiasm is there, just not where you might expect it.

  2. I’ve never really had to experience the holidays outside of North America so I can’t really say that season wise I have experienced much of a shock, though I did experience a bit of one in my younger years when I went to Mexico and experienced a Christmas there. The holiday season in Mexico is hugely celebrated, with posadas and all that in the days prior to Christmas day; in comparison here my family only celebrates Christmas Eve and let’s the rest of the typical Mexican celebrations fall to the side. It’s not realistic here of course and being that I am not really a practicing Catholic I don’t really intend to bring those celebrations into my traditions ever, but the childhood memory of celebrating Mary and Joseph’s journey is a good one.

  3. It blew my mind to have forever summer in Townsville – especially during Christmas! I will know to pack ahead and bring some fun things from the States!

  4. It’s so true that holidays here are very much tied to the season in which they occur. I can’t imagine celebrating Christmas in 90 degree weather. I realize that’s just how it is in the southern hemisphere, but it still feels really bizarre!

    • I’m used to warm Christmases since I’m from Miami, but it’s still winter and Easter still takes place in the spring and Halloween in the autumn.

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