In the Northern Traditions today is known as Winter's Day, Vinternatsblot. Also, next weekend I have something similar marked in my diary - Winter Saturday and Winter Sunday. I cannot remember where I picked these days up from, but I know that I have been observing them, quietly and without fuss for a few years now.
Winter's Day mark's the beginning of the winter season in the old northern European calendar. It would be a time when the activities of the Summer were stopped and preparations for the coming winter began. Those who follow the northern traditions will know that the festival we call Mabon is called Winter Finding in this particular tradition.
I often feel that the names Winter Finding and Summer finding - celebrated at Eostre/Ostara are quite appropriate for these festivals. They give a sense of it being the right time for the summer/winter to be coming in. When we celebrate our equinoxes we are celebrating a time of balance - equality in day and night. I often think that the coming season gets forgotten in these celebrations and I like to take a little time to see where I am at with my preparations for the summer or winter.
This is why I felt drawn to the Winter's Day celebration. We have had Mabon, the second harvest and the time of balance. We are acutely aware that the light is dying and we will soon be in the depths of winter. But in recent years our seasons have become very confusing, we can no longer rely on them to be as defined as they once were, whether that is down to global warming or something a bit more naturally occurring. Up here in Cumbria the spring and autumn seasons have always been very defined; they are often colder than what people in the south experience and generally wetter. Usually autumn is creeping across the land by late August, more noticeable than in the south and it is fair to say that by mid October we have usually had at least one lot of frost and it is a lot cooler than it is right now.
I understand that the whole country is experiencing a milder autumn and that Cumbria is included this time - notice the sarcasm here, it is a well know fact that Cumbria is wet, wet and more wet and generally doesn't experience the out of season warm snaps.
So with this kind of climate confusion in mind, we can get more of a sense of where we are supposed to be at seasonally when we mark days such as Winter's Day. For it can only be a matter of time before the milder weather gives way to the colder weather of late autumn/early winter. We can get so caught up in not having to wear winter clothing and enjoying the extended warmth that when winter does finally descend on us we can feel shocked by it.
It's easy to say that we are aware of the fact that it is mid October, but it is only natural that we get carried away with the warmer weather and don that carefree attitude we all seem to have during the summer months. Personally, I would much rather the weather played nice and acted like a typical October, even I am finding it hard to prepare myself for the coming winter and all that it brings. Autumn feels as if it has been paused. The leaves aren't as golden and orange as they should be and certain plants in my garden haven't died back yet, which they really should of by now.
This feels alien to me, like I am no longer living in Northern England. It feels as though I have gone to another country and it is rather odd to say the least. Fellow witches are blogging about Halloween, yet to me that festival feels like it should be a good few weeks away yet, rather than in just over two weeks.
With all of this in mind, I wish you a Happy Winter's Day - even if you can't quite grasp that Winter really is just around the corner.