Celebrating the Season ~ The Significance of This Cross-Quarterly Holiday
by Corinna Wood, Director, Southeast Wise Women
Some of you may know the quarterly holidays fairly well: Spring and Fall Equinox as well as Winter and Summer Solstice. If the year were charted in a circle, these points make a cross both down the verticle middle and through the horizontal center of the circle. Between each of these points are what's known as cross quarterly holidays. These are Imbolc (early February), Beltane or May Day, Lammas (early August) and Halloween, which falls halfway between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice.
In times of old, the cross quarterly holidays closest to Winter Solstice were celebrated on the new moon and those cross quarterly holidays closest to Summer Solstice were celebrated on the full moon. Now Halloween, also known as Samhain, and May Day have been moved to fixed dates on the solar calendar.
So this year, the fixed date of Halloween is, as usual, October 31st. But if we were to celebrate that in the old ways, it would be November 5th, the date of the new moon, also known as Lunar Halloween or Lunar Samhain.
I love the holiday times that fall around Halloween – I delight in watching the kids in my rural community walk through the woods from house to house to trick-or-treat. It also a marks the time of the year that moves into the darkness, winter, and inward quiet time, which is precious to me, my work, and my family. Further, as is known in many other modern cultures, this is the best time to honor and remember our dead. It is often said that the 'veils between the worlds are the thinnest' at this time, making it an opportune time to learn about or attend Day of the Dead ceremonies.