It never ceases to amaze me how many ancient feast days and festivals are echoed in or overwritten by Christian ones.
Who am I kidding? The Christian church has always had a habit of looking at local customs and adopting, adapting and advancing the new, improved Christian version (not just the Christian church: all religions new to an area tend to absorb local customs and deities into themselves. See how Roman Gods overwrote Greek originals). It’s how Saturnalia became Christmas, Samhain became All Saints Day and Eostre became… well… Easter. They all make sense, as well, because ancient festivals and their more modern religious counterparts are all very Earth-based, or tied to the seasons, the Sun and the slow movement of time. What better thing to celebrate mid-winter than the birth (rebirth) of the Son/Sun that brings us life? When else to celebrate new life and resurrection than at the end of the dark days of winter?
And when better to hold your Harvest Festival than when the days and night are of equal lengths and you know there’s no place to go but down into the dark heart of the year?
Today, 22nd September, is honoured by pagans of many kinds as Mabon, a mid-harvest festival of sorts. They may mark it by feasting, spending time in nature or by eating apples. Yes, apples play a big part in the festivities of Autumn. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, just celebrated two weeks ago, has as its symbols honey and apples. Jewish people will dip the apples in the honey and ask God for a sweet New Year, much as arable workers the world over will leave parts of the harvest to self-seed and hope for a fruitful year to come. And Christian churches, too, the world over celebrate the gifts of God through Creation in Harvest Festivals… with songs, with donations of food and gifts to those in need, and with prayers and words of gratitude to a generous Creator.
Whatever your faith or none, and whether you celebrate your Autumnal equinox officially as part of your religion or as a secular way to mark the changing seasons, I hope you do feel the gifts of the world have been given to you, and that gratitude is always a big part of your life. I know it’s vital in mine for keeping me awestruck at how much I have been given, especially in the small things of life.
Me, I’m eating a sausage casserole with squash and beans from the Hairy Biker’s One Pot Wonders, making an apple crumble and custard, and catching up on my real-time readalong of A Discovery Of Witches, which apparently is an annual tradition amongst Deborah Harkness fans. You can follow her plan on her calendar here. I will read fast and catch up so far…. or cheat, and enjoy the exquisite Matthew Goode in the TV series.
I’ve decided to have one header for the whole season of small things: it’s one of my favourite pictures by Alex Geerts on Unsplash. I love the whole colour scheme, which just makes me feel so autumnal. I love the socks, the book, the blanket, the tea, the leaves and pumpkin. There are so many small pleasures in the picture, it’s like my ambition for this whole series in one simple shot.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well, and read the other posts in the series, too.
My September of Small Things:
Day Three: Plants, Naturally
Day Four: A New Magazine that Really Suits Me
Day Five: Autumnal Decor Ready for the Harvest
Day Eight: Life Lessons From the Roadside
Day 11: Autumning Up My Planner
Day 12: A Brief Pause in a Very Busy Day
Day 18: The Return of an Old and well-Loved Friend
Day 19: Late Autumn Colour on the Tree I Love