Reconciling the Commercial and the Pagan
I have pointed out that it can be difficult for us to celebrate our seasonal festivals because of the commercial festivals shoving the wrong seasons down our throats. So how can we overcome this, or even work with it?
The most obvious answer is to Google everything. Just because that blog post about Beltane is from the northern hemisphere and is 3 years old doesn’t make it irrelevant to your Beltane this year in October. The general ideas of how to celebrate the Sabbats remain the same world wide – excepting differences with flora and fauna.
Christmas is full of winter symbolism, which is annoying, however… Fairy lights are fun little things, and quite suitable for summer solstice which is not only about summer but also about light! Using fairy lights during a light festival is perfectly okay. New Years Eve is also coming up for us which provides other options – glow sticks anyone? Sparklers are also summery fun, if you are not in a total fire ban area. Tinsel in the right colours – red and gold especially – would also be great for creating a summer wreath or other summer decorations. Those stars we hang on our trees instead of angels, well, you did know the sun is a star right? Also good for the summer solstice.
Handily, Aussies managed to adapt to a summer Christmas long ago – BBQs are basically tradition for Christmas, and are just as great for the solstice. If you are lucky you may live in an area that sells Aussie-fied Christmas decorations, such as gum leaf or sunflower garlands. On a personal note, for the summer solstice I always buy gifts for the kids, just like for Christmas – but I make them seasonally appropriate. A massive trampoline one year, sporting equipment the next, a throw together swimming pool the next – gifts that are great for outdoor use.
That’s just one example of how you can use the commercial holidays to your advantage. I already mentioned above that getting dressed up and wandering around in the middle of the night is not a problem for Beltane which happens on Halloween. Halloween paraphernalia is generally non-perishable so you can definitely stock up – but I do think using Halloween decorations in April/May could be problematic, if fun.
Using Easter to your advantage for the Autumn Equinox is a bit more tricky. It’s basically just chocolate eggs and bunnies and hot cross buns, and other than suggesting you buy them after Easter to get good prices, and eat them before the kids do, I honestly have no ideas for this one. Those fruit buns aren’t really that bad for autumn though. The natural world and DIY crafts are your best bet for this. I wouldn’t rely on anything Eastery to help you out really. Although, when it comes to real eggs, I can’t deny things like quiche seem like perfectly good autumn foods to me.
The world is not the same from one place to the next. Our Gregorian calendar and the solstices and equinoxes determine when the four seasons occur – but the four seasons are actually atypical on the world scale. Indeed, on the world scale, there maybe are no typical seasons as such because every country, every region is so vastly different. While the four seasons are observed in many places, they aren’t really what we think. Your particular area may seem to match the four seasons fairly well, but the truth may be a bit more complex than you realise. You may actually live in an area that has 3 seasons, or 5 or 6 or 10 seasons – but because you are taught early on and grow up knowing that there are four seasons, exactly, beginning and ending at specific times, this can make it easy for you to not actually see the other unacknowledged seasons that happen in your area and during your life.This is not to say that your area can’t have exactly those four seasons, it’s certainly possible – it’s just not as typical as people think it is.
So, it is possible that your country, state or local area may have seasons that are actually different to the accepted four seasons – whether drastically or subtly. What does this mean and what can you do about it? Well there are a few things you can do, but, I am going to do a horrible thing and say, I will save it for next weeks post because this one is running over 2000 words already.
So, next week will be part 2 of the Wheel of the Year where we will look at how to figure out the real seasons of your region – assuming they aren’t the accepted four seasons.
If there is anything specific about the seasons and festivals you want me to have a look at, that fits with the 180 Degrees series, let me know and I will look into it and post about it if I can. Also, if there are any other hemisphere differences that you find difficult or interesting and want me to write about, let me know!
I don’t really have much in the way of sources for this post – most of my information came from actual Pagans, generally through the Pagan Veil which is now closed down and can’t be linked to. But you can read about the seasons on Wiki and the Earths orbit, including axial tilt, also on Wiki.
You can also read a whole heap of great information about seasonal festivals and differences around the world over on Paths Through the Forest.
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