The Harvest Moon
The meaning of tradition holds true - but different - for all of us.
I have never been a fan of this time of the year, honestly. The days get cold, night comes sooner, and the sun doesn't feel as warm anymore. Being raised Baptist in the Bible belt meant we very rarely got to partake in any events that promoted Halloween. However, the older I get, the more my respect for this time of the year and my understanding of why it's necessary grows. This year I took the time to really research meanings and why we have the Halloween traditions that we do. I was blown away! It really is a sacred and significant time with a beautiful history.
The Harvest Moon and late October signified the end of food sources and warmth. In ancient times, it was presumed the veil between the living and the dead thinned, as winter was a time of death, sickness, and darkness. People wore masks to camouflage them from spirits seeking lives to take to the other side. Candles were burned and put in gourds in front of their homes to do the same. Turnips were crafted into faces and put on sticks. Bonfires were lit to offer sacrifices to deities for a safe and mild winter. My favorite aspect of it's history is one America has forgotten to incorporate - taking the time to remember those who came before us. All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Samhein are all alternative names for this holiday and all focused on respecting and remembering. Other cultures like Mexico celebrate still celebrate All Souls Day, also known as Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos. Countries with Latin, Indian, or Asian cultures all have a day of the year where they pay their respects. This year, I have decided to add a particular tradition to my little family. Normally, we hit a pumpkin patch, carve our pumpkins the weekend before Halloween, and dress up on Halloween and visit family members. I hope starting this year to take the opportunity and remember and pay respects to our family members, do crafts and bake things that reflect our heritage, and find items and photos from those family members we wish to remember and display them. What a better time to reflect on celebrating the sanctity of death then when nature itself is goes into a place of darkness. Death isn't normally something people celebrate in our culture, but rather fear. Death can be a beautiful and sacred thing. If you die then that means you got to live! For that reason, while I still dread the cold that autumn brings, I respect the significance and beauty of it and what it has to teach us. So maybe this year, in the middle of all the candy, costumes, and pumpkins - take the time to reflect on where you came from and those souls who hold a special place in your heart.
All Liz Rau Books may be found in print on Amazon, as well as iBooks, Nook and Kindle!