The origins of the end-of-October seasonal holiday are those of last harvest. It's not a moon or sun phase holiday. It's not a religious observance in the strongest sense of the word. My interpretation/observance may be different from others. That's what you get here in Buttercupia.
So all year long, we've been growing things and creating things and putting things by, knowing that the dark of the year is coming. Back in August, we had a good harvest that took us through to here. Now we go back out into the fields to see what else we can come up with to eat and to nervously assess if we have enough. This concept works in both a literal and a spiritual sense. What have we wrought in our lives over the prior months? What yield did we take from our gardens, metaphorically and actually? What did we accomplish? Do we have enough, and is anything going to go to waste?
So we get together. Those who have more pass it along to those who have perhaps been less productive or less fortunate. (That lives on in children going from door to door begging candy.) Feasts are given with the bounty that we can't preserve. We finish the work of clearing the last grain and fruit and squash out of the fields and putting it into a form that will sustain us. Canning, drying, freezing. I've been in a bit of a "cook and freeze" kick this past week or two and I think the season explains it.
In the "olden days", people had a good reason to be nervous about this time of year. The growing season was at an end. All the grain and veg and fruit they were going to get was in the pantry now, and had to last a while. There weren't any grocery stores. Empires nervously calculated if there was enough winter wheat put by to make bread for the populace. Sometime it wasn't, and sometimes wars and revolutions happened as a result. So yeah, people get a little nervous. Customs arise out of necessity and ritual arises out of custom. That's how we become civilized.
So this year I look into the freezer and into the craft room and into the cupboards and into my heart and figure out if I've done enough to survive, to take us through the coming dark and into the spring, into the light. This is a tough time of year for me, personally. Family angst, bare branches, cold mornings, ache in my bones and joints that tell me I'm running out of reserves and I have to take more care. Dreams of my youth that tell me I'm older now and I'd better watch I don't run out.
I think it's been a good year. We have a full freezer, a nicely-stocked pantry. We're not going to go hungry, despite my fruit and vegetable anxiety. Inside, I've grown too. I'm trying to be more tolerant and understanding, while learning about my place in the world and figuring out what brought me here. Figuring out what will move me forward, keep me growing as a person and as a citizen of the planet and the human race. It's not always easy. In some things, like empathy and outrage and words, I have extra. In other things, like tolerance and understanding, I may need to go from door to door and collect a little extra from my neighbors. It's a process.
I know we'll survive until Spring, though. I know that Yule will find us rejoicing at our survival and prosperity as we share those special bits of bounty that we hid for the darkest times. I know my work, both public and private, both for pay and for joy, will continue to develop and I will continue to strive for a sense of pride in work, and maybe sometimes I'll find it.
May the last harvest find you all prosperous and happy.