Thursday, November 24, 2011

Weaving the Wheel Together

It's interesting how secular holidays can fit into the Wheel of the Year. There are some big ones in my family... some are probably more obvious, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. (I know the first two aren't necessarily secular holidays, but that's how they're celebrated in my family.) Beyond that we also celebrate Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Dar, and New Year's Day.

Thanksgiving is a goodbye to fall, with a feast of autumn foods, and a welcoming of the winter season. True, winter won't really be here until near the end of next month, but shortly after Thanksgiving decorations will start going up, the Christmas dinner will be thought of (in my family, this starts after Thanksgiving dinner is done, but we're all sitting around the table), other winter treats and gifts start coming into focus. This is the holiday that kicks it all off.

Christmas and New Year's Day both meld in pretty much seamlessly with my celebrating the 12 days of Yule. Christmas and Yule, for us, share much of the same symbolism. It's the only holiday that really blends so well, that we share in this way. As for New Year's, Yule is when I celebrate the New Year, so to have a big celebration of the calendar New Year near the end of the 12 days of Yule is quite nice. The biggest, warmest celebrations in one of the coldest months.

Easter is a nice spring celebration somewhere between Ostara and Beltane. Again, there is an overlap in some symbolism, especially with Ostara. Since Ostara here is still quite cold, and doesn't yet feel much like spring, it can be nice to hold off on some spring type things until Easter (depending on when it falls that year).

Then come the final three, the summer holidays, Memorial Day, the 4th, and Labor Day. Memorial Day is often seen as the kick off of the summer season. This is true for us, we will have the first cook out of the season, but it is also a time for us to visit the graves of family members. It's a bit odd to be having what is essentially an ancestor festival at this time of the year, seems like more of an autumn activity. Still, it's a reminder of the balance and cycle we all flow through. Death in life, life in death. Never one without the other. The 4th comes when summer is fully here, the true beginning of many summer activities. Then, Labor Day, when we begin to settle back into our fall routines.

When speaking of the Wheel, the big 8 are what we think of, and for good reason. Still, as important as the 8 spokes on the wheel are, the days in between can be just as important. Not just other holidays, but taking time to note the seasons and celebrate a bit from day to day. Seeing how it all fits in together, always rolling on to the next, always new - but always repeating.

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