What Season IS It Anyway?!
Tis the season! At least that’s what the signs say. But what season is it? Christmas décor is displayed before Halloween. And by the time Christmas arrives, we’re buying Easter eggs and shamrocks. It’s so confusing!
Did you know that around the world there are at least 78 holidays celebrated between October and December? There are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Jewish holidays as well as holidays celebrated by Indigenous People, Pagans, and Unitarians. These holidays often celebrate similar events but go by different names or are celebrated on different days.
During October and November, some interesting end-of-life commemorations occur including:
Halloween/Allhalloween/All Hallow’s Eve/All Saints’ Eve – Originally celebrated by the Celts in Britain and Ireland as the festival of Samhain to commemorate souls who died and were believed to return to visit. People set bonfires on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits, and they sometimes wore masks and other disguises to avoid being recognized by the ghosts. That’s how witches, hobgoblins, fairies, and demons came to be associated with the day.
Dia de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink, and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31 to November 2.
Guy Fawkes Night – Guy Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in the United Kingdom as Guy Fawkes Night since November 5, 1605. On that date, Fawkes was about to be hanged for trying to blow up the House of Lords. However, he fell off the scaffold and broke his neck and was therefore saved from being hanged, drawn, and quartered. Every November 5, an effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire and usually accompanied by fireworks.
In December we experience Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, but around the world, different cultures celebrate in different ways.
Krampusnacht – Celebrated in Alpine countries on December 6 as the Feast of St. Nicholas. Krampus was a rascally companion of St. Nicholas. He punishes naughty children the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 5). Think coal in your stocking on this one.
Omisoka – Celebrated in Japan on December 31, it’s the beginning of the New Year. Some of the traditions include cleaning the house from top to bottom, ringing bells 108 times following the Buddhist belief that humans have 108 earthly desires, eating Japanese noodles (soba), and drinking sake on New Year’s Day.
Tis the Season around the world, so whether you celebrate Christmas or Winter Solstice, Halloween, or the Day of the Dead, I wish you a happy one. Have yourself a Merry Halloweening, turkey gobblin’, Auld Lang Syne holiday.
Author: Pamela Royle, 2022