It’s August!! Yay, Summer holidays and days full of hot sun, gardens full of flowers and another two months (almost) of Summer!!!
Except… it doesn’t really feel like Summer, does it? Aren’t you looking at the trees and wondering where that fantastic bright green has gone? Haven’t you spotted some… dare I say it… brown, yellow or gold creeping in amongst the green? And the fields are flowing golden with the crops…. until the farmer has passed by, when they stand, shorn and bare. It’s Harvest time, and the countryside is overflowing with the end results of a growing season.
I know traditionally we call the break from school at this time of the year the Summer holidays, but truthfully I think we’re past the best of the Summer. Midsummer, June’s festival of light, is literally the midpoint of the Summer season, when days stretch into nights that stretch into early mornings of birdsongs and babies that can’t read the time and so follow their own sweet, natural rhythms. By August we’re either sticky from the heat or wishing we could properly put on our wooly cardigans without pulling them off in frustration at overheating ten minutes later. The evenings are drawing in (sunset in mid-August is 8.30, a whole two hours earlier than June) and shops are screaming School School School, taking any possibility of relaxing away from us anyway.
School holidays were set according to the needs of the agrarian world, at least in the UK they were. Children were free to work in the harvest fields for the whole day, instead of bunking off school or racing to work after the day’s education was done. That’s partly why dates vary across the country, with both Ireland and Scotland going for an earlier start and finish to coincide with their biggest harvest times. Even in the 21st Century, we see the influence of natural rhythms. Our children may never need to harvest the corn or dig the potatoes, but they still get the space needed to do it.
This year it has struck me full force that, actually, we’re running our seasons wrong. Like I said. what’s with Midsummer being at the start of Summer instead of its zenith? Likewise, Midwinter isn’t the middle of the season we call Winter is it? And Autumn colours (sometimes accompanied by a chill in the morning and a breeze in the night) creep in from mid August, rather than waiting for the months allotted to them. I think we need to Be More Celts. We need to change our seasonal thinking. Ancient Celts used the high points of the solar calendar to fix the midpoints of their season, so that Midsummer really was the middle of Summer and the Autumnal equinox was midway through Autumn. This would mean that Winter starts on the 1st November, Spring on 1st February and Summer (blessed, short, lovely Summer) on 1st May. And Autumn started on 1st August, with the feast of Lammas or first harvest. From now until Hallowe’en is Autumn.
With an Irish Father, I’m claiming my heritage back. You cling on to summer as the last rays of sun and heat slide away. I’m happy to announce it Fall already, and now I’m free to anticipate all the joys of the season we’re in, not the one we’ve just left.
Happy Harvest season, everyone! Let’s get the Pumpkin Spice coffee in!
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My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA.
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3 thoughts on “Why We Need to be More Celtic”
We can’t have Autumn yet! The crops still have a month’s worth of growing to do (except the small grains). We’re still in the long hot dog days of summer. Even September will be hot enough. I remember many years picking out the perfect new ‘back to school’ outfit only for it to be far too hot to wear the first week of September. As much as I hate the heat and humidity, I can’t wish for Autumn until the crops are ready for the first frosts to come.
I’ve been looking at things this way for years. It makes more sense if you look at nature. At least, it does to me. Have a hygge Autumn!
Thank you so much for this! I’ve always noticed things were a bit “off” with the reality of the seasons and the calendar my culture follows. This post clarifies my world a bit more and I appreciate it!