June ushers in winter in Australia. In Germany, seasons do not start on the first day of the month as they do in Australia; rather, they start on the 23rd of the month. Why, I hear you ask? Ponder that as you read through this article.
The shortest day of the year, winter solstice is celebrated the world over … with many celebrations having roots in ancient cultures, for whom it was significant because it meant that the people had lived through their harshest time of the year, and the days would begin to get longer and merge into spring, when crops could be planted again and existence would be easier. In our modern age of 24/7 supermarkets the fight for survival does not carry the same weight, so solstice celebrations can be ‘reduced’ to pleasant get-togethers without the overlay of angst felt critically by earlier civilizations.
Nevertheless, I always feel better after the winter solstice because I know the longer days are coming. With a difference of four hours between sunset in mid-winter and mid-summer, I am cognisant of the drawing-in and lengthening of days as the year passes. This is part of my ‘personal seasonal calendar’, the markers from nature and my social calendar that relate to me personally. Like the cherry blossoms meaning the start of cricket training for some, and others waiting until after Melbourne Cup day to plant tomatoes, winter and summer solstices are personal markers for me.
I found it interesting that in 2020 – the ‘lost year’ of lockdown – the absence of events in my social calendar that ordinarily punctuate my personal seasons resulted in the entire year feeling stretched into one long passage of endless time, rather than pockets of time bookended by pleasantries I physically attend. My lack of physical travel to places outside my front gate completely altered my perception of the year’s flow.
The capital city of my state — Naarm (or Melbourne) — is on Wurundjeri land: the Wurundjeri calendar has 6-8 seasons, dictated by changes in nature.
When equated with life-stages winter is the last season, the one in which a person dies. Having been through the childhood of spring, young adult years of summer and the older adult years of autumn, a person arrives at their final season: winter. As in annual seasons, this ‘life-span winter’ can be construed as one of ‘coming home’, cosying up in front of a fire while reflecting on a life in all its intricacies. It’s a time when people often seek to reconnect with those they’ve lost touch with or haven’t spoken to for years, coming to peace with unresolved grievances and righting old wrongs. Not that people don’t reflect on their lives in their life-span of summer and autumn … it’s just that winter is their last life-span season to be at peace before their ultimate journey from the physical sphere.
Did you work out the answer to my introductory question of why seasons start on the 23rd in Germany? It’s because this is the day after the solstices (depth of winter and height of summer; June and December) and equinoxes (the most even day-night time, autumn and spring; March and September), when the length of the days and nights begins to reverse.
Your Personal Seasons
I invite you to reflect on your own personal seasons: your annual rhythm and flow, as well as your life-span rhythm and flow.
Post me your answers to the following questions (if you’re inspired to share):
*What are the markers that matter to you, that create the start and end of your personal seasons? *Are you at peace with your inner nature?