Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seasons (LBE)

There are often arguments about the dates the seasons end and start. I myself have been involved in more than one of these arguments. And why? Because both location and religion determine the calender you follow. Let me explain.

Majority of those descended from the Celts (the Welsh, the Irish, the Scottish and people in some parts of England) still follow the dates of the old Celtic calender. As do many of those who follow many branches of the Pagan religions. This calender states that the start of the new year begins on Samhain/Halloween/All Hallows Eve. It also states that Winter begins at the start of November, Spring at the start of February, Summer at the start of May, and Autumn/Fall at the start of August in the Northern Hemisphere, with the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere being the opposite (February being Autumn, May being Winter, etc). Thus placing the Equinoxes and Solstices roughly in the centre of each season. These dates are, obviously, not 100% accurate due to the fact that when the calender was more widely used the dates were worked out differently (using the moon's phases). They are just the closest anyone can come from interpretations of the old Celtic calenders when compared to observations of the moon made throughout the year as we know it. If that makes sense.

Also, there was very little mention of Spring and Autumn in the Celtic calender. Autumn was merely the harvest time, and Spring the time of rebirth of animals and nature.

However, everyone else follows other calenders. Not necesarily the same ones as one another. In some of these other calenders the dates of the starts of the seasons change. As does the date that the new year begins. Although, in some of them the dates do remain roughly the same.

The most commonly used of these calenders is the Gregorian calender... The one which gives us the dates we use every day of the week, every week of the year, every year of our lives. The one that states that the first day of the new year is on January 1st. This same calender is also the one that states that the Equinoxes and Solstices mark the start of the season rather than its mid point.

The old calenders base their dates not only on lunar phases, but also on the point in the year when certain things (i.e. harvesting) needed to be done, and are therefore still widely used by farmers as well as Pagans and the descendants of the Celts.


While browsing the internet for Autumn/Fall themed items to post (recipes, interesting articles, etc) I noticed that there are more dates claiming to be the correct date for the start of each season than even "I" realised (and I knew there were "two or three"). The dates for the start of Autumn/Fall, for example, range from August 1st to September 23rd.

So... With so many different dates given for the dates the seasons start and end, how are you to know which season - or which part of a certain season - you are in? How are you supposed to decide whether, for example, Autumn/Fall starts at the start of August, the start of September, or later in the month of September at the date of the Autumn Equinox (September 22nd/23rd)?

Personally, I have always gone by the dates in the Celtic calender, which means that as far as I'm concerned Autumn/Fall is almost at its mid point. I choose to use this calender because it's the one that makes most sense to me. Many people agree that Yule/Christmas happens "in the bleak Mid-Winter" and that June 21st (the Summer Solstice) marks the mid point of Summer. And since I share that belief, it stands to reason that September should be the middle of Autumn and March should be the middle of Spring. Especially when you take in to consideration the fact that many pieces of text state that the year is split up in to four seasons of roughly equal length. And when you take in to account the fact that the Welsh name for the month of July is "Gorffenaf" from the Welsh "Gorffen" meaning "finish" or "end" and the Welsh "haf" meaning "Summer."

But which calender do you use? How do you figure out where in the season we are? Or, for that matter, which season we are in? Or, do you not care? Whatever the case, I'd be interested in your opinions and your reasons for them.



AliceKay said...

I guess I go by the Gregorian calendar and the calendar that most people here in the USA use. The first day of the new year is January 1st, the spring equinox marks the first day of spring, the summer solstice marks the first day of summer, the autumn equinox marks the first day of autumn, and the winter equinox marks the first day of winter. (i dont even want to think about winter this year) It's interesting to find out how other cultures, and religions, follow other calendars and events, tho.

Intense Guy said...

My oldest brother who lives in the snow belt portion of New York state has his own winter calendar - basically winter starts when the first snow can be expected and ends when the last of it might fall. So his winter is from early November to late April!

I've aways thought the seasons have been ahead or lagged behind the "official" start / end dates.

For instance, Summer started for me - in early June when school let out and not on the 20/21st.

Call me out of sync!

LadyStyx said...

LOL@ iggy. I've seen winters in NY start as early as the week of Halloween and as late as Mother's Day (which was in MAY that year). There was no spring that year I swear.

Im with iggy, the seasons never seem to match up with the "official" start dates. Winter doesnt really hit until the temps are 32F or lower consistantly (at least at night), autumn is when the weather gets cooler and the leaves change....Summer always seems to last until Labor Day or slightly thereafter (school always starts thereafter and means autumn is getting close).

AliceKay said...

Oops...I mistakenly typed winter "equinox" when I meant to type winter "solstice", but I think you probably got that figured out. Sorry.

And Iggy...I've been told many times that there are only two seasons in Pennsylvania...winter and construction. :\

whimsical brainpan said...

I don't think any calendar applies anymore as far as seasons go. It seems to me that they have been displaced (here at least). Autumn and winter now come a month late, spring is unpredictable, and summer is early.

Punkn said...

I used the calendar that's in my purse that I keep all my meetings on. I have never given calendars much thought. I guess it is the Gregorian one.
If you had asked me what clock I use, I'd have the answer. My internal clock. I have not worn a watch for years and yet I can almost always tell you what time it is within 1/2 hour of the correct time. Even when I wake up in the middle of the night my internal calendar never fails me.

Tori_z said...

Interesting answers all.

You have to go by some kind of calender here to figure out the seasons, otherwise the only difference you'll notice is that it gets darker sooner in one half of the year than in the other. LOL!

I saw snow in early May in Canada. And it started up again a little over a week before Halloween (I know I remember the dates right, because it was only the end of April I moved over there, and it was a little over a week before Halloween we came back and they had to de snow and defrost the plane's wings before we could take off).

LOL @ "Winter and construction"

And, yes, AK, I did know what you meant.

Wish I could do that Punkn. Mind you, I was pretty good at it before. Kinda lost my touch now a bit. I suppose part of it is knowing roughly the sun's position or how light/dark it is at any given time of any given month... Or something like that.

ChicagoLady said...

I know all the commercially sold calendars in the U.S. are based on the Gregorian calendar of days and weeks. And although it's true that June 21 is labelled as the first day of Summer, and Sept 22 is labelled as the first day of Autumn, etc. I also know that technically they aren't.

In North America, June 21 is the day with the most daylight. Every day after that the amount of daylight begins to decrease. Conversely, Dec 21 is the day when daylight is the shortest, and every day after, the amount of daylight increases. So even though we consider them the start of the seasons, they are technically the midpoints.

As far as what season I'm in...as long as it's not winter, I'm pretty happy.

Annukka said...

Greetings from Finland!

“Mrs Nackle” here. I play WOW in same guild as Kelly. I accidentally let him know I’ve been reading your blog so now I have to post ;) I stumbled on your blog first time a few months ago while I was googling around. (Long before Kelly linked you blog on guild-webby.)

For me winter starts in November, spring in April, summer in June and fall in September. Finnish names of the months support my view. It's not unusual that it sleets in Vappu (First of May) in southern Finland nor is it unusual to have snow in June in northern Finland. Seasons are blurring though, winter is not as cold as it used to be and summer is colder than it used to be. I'm really missing those cold winters with lots of snow. For us Finns the June 24th is the midsummer. Juhannus (old pagan midsummer celebration mixed with St John the Baptist's nativity) also starts the holiday-season in Finland.

It is a bit funny that new year starts from January as the church year also ends in late November. ( Last Sunday of liturgical year in Finnish Lutheran church is actually called Judgment Sunday). I guess we have ancient Romans to blame for New Year's Day being where it is now.


(Yes. It’s utterly unpronounceable for non Finns. Two sets of double consonants seem to be very difficult…I was thoroughly amazed when it was correctly pronounced by a doctor in a small Liverpudlian clinic. I had never met her, but It turned out that another doc I’d met before had written my name into their files in phonetics…)

Tori_z said...

I think commercially sold calenders everywhere are based on the Gregorian calender.

LOL @ your last comment.

Annukka/Mrs Nackle:
Welcome to my blog, and thanks for the comment. :)

Kelly did tell me you had been reading for a while, but wasn't sure if it was since we linked my blog on the guild web site for that "The Alliance United" post or if it was before then. We know now though, don't we? :)

That's a good reason for how you work out the dates for the starts of the seasons. And I miss the snowy Winters too. I absolutely LOVE snow. That was my favourite part about spending Christmas in Canada (about six years ago now). Well, the company was great too, but the snow was awesome! Real snow! Not that silly slush stuff that you know will be ice by tomorrow. Proper fluffy, white, thick snow that you can build snowmen in and make snowballs with and sink in to up to your knees (or further in some places). We haven't had snow like that over here since I was a kid (I'm talking 14 and under).

Yes, the date of the new year is all because of the Romans. They just "had to" be different and make everyone else follow their ideas.