For the first time in at least five years, November 1st—Samhain, the natural year’s first day of winter—dawned clear and crisp. What an excellent way to begin a new season! I appreciate the irony of starting the dark, introspective, even spooky season with invigorating sunshine and bracing wind (see Samhain Welcomes Winter).
As I grow older, I seem to anticipate Samhain almost more than Halloween. I guess I appreciate the slight pause after the first major observance of the holiday season, a chance to catch one’s breath before plunging into the upcoming holiday mealstrom of Thanksgiving, and Christmas (see October: Beginning of our Holiday Season and The All Too Brief Thanksgiving Season).
Maybe I also like this time of year because it’s not so thoroughly anchored in family and community tradition, so it lacks the trappings of obligation and expectation. It’s more fluid, more free form, more “do what you want,” not what’s expected of you. Beyond the iconic images of Halloween, which it includes, it stretches the borders a bit. Appropriately, everything seems less well defined, less concrete, not so established. Like the season itself, it’s murky in a variety of ways (see The Wild Hunt). I feel like we should expect the unexpected, like, for instance, a sunny day on November 1st.