Thursday, October 31, 2013

Which Holiday Is It, Anyway?

The Calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada
Day of the Dead
All Hallow's Evening
All Souls Day
Día de Muertos

Today is October 31.  

Harvest Time!
Pumpkins, Corn and Sugar!
What are we celebrating (besides the miracle of marketing, which has had Hallowe'en candy on shelves in the U.S. for the last 4 months)?

October 31.  Tomorrow is November 1, about half-way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  At this point we have dropped from 15 hours and 13 minutes of daylight to only 10 hours and 24 minutes.  

Plants and animals (the Biosphere) have responded to this decrease in light
by ripening their seeds, and dying back for the winter.  In fact, the leaves are just about gone.  Any rain at this time of year will remove the rest.  The growing period is over.  WINTER is here.

Not to repeat myself (yeah, right) but while astronomers and talking heads on television say that the seasons start based on equinoxes and solstices, life on this planet doesn't care about the stars.  When the amount of daylight has increased enough (that's around February 1 or 2, Mr. Groundhog), then it is Spring and time to grow.  When daylight decreases, it is time to set fruit (August 1) and go to sleep for the Winter (November 1).

So, November 1 marks the end of the growing season, and the start of the Big Sleep.  It is the first day of Winter.

For centuries, people have celebrated a holiday on this date.  It is both a thanksgiving for the harvest (note the pumpkins, corn, apple pies) and a recognition of the end of life (ghosts).  

I suppose what you call it depends on where you live and what you believe.

As for the stroke of midnight, it is neither today nor tomorrow, October nor November, Autumn nor Winter.  It is a crack, a break in between, and where there is an opening, things can get through!

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