In a recent post, I introduced the idea that we’re looking for ways to inject more substance into how we celebrate the holidays and acknowledge seasonal changes within our family.
For many cultures, autumn has historically been a time of harvest, of giving thanks for earth’s bounty and a slowing down as days shortened and nights lengthened. Many cultures also acknowledge the days around All Hallows’ Eve as a time to remember and honor the dead.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with trick-or-treating. In fact, many of the iconic Halloween symbols and traditions of today date back to the Celtics and beyond; however, I am frustrated that our culture is focused almost exclusively on candy and horror movies and has lost its earth-based reverence.
My point is, I believe there’s room for both. Our family has approached Halloween and autumn overall with the intention of bringing our family closer to nature. Here are a few of my favorite activities that we introduced this year:
- We visited a nearby farm, White Oak Pastures, and it was one of my favorite experiences of the year. We attended its fall festival, rode horses, stayed in a cabin on the property, saw newborn lambs, watched employees feed their animals as the sun rose, and so much more. It was such a fun way to support a local farm, an incredible way to recharge and a hands-on way for our children to interact with nature and understand where food comes from. I realize we’re incredibly privileged to have access to farms and the experience we had. Alternatively, you could plant your own fall garden which typically includes root vegetables, leafy greens and herbs, depending on your location.
- We built a fall altar. I should say, we’re building a fall alter because it’s a work in progress that began about a month ago. We began by collecting acorns, fallen leaves, pieces of bark and anything else that caught our eye during our time outside. We also added a couple of small pumpkins, mementos that remind us of loved ones who have passed, a jar of nuts and a candle. It’s a simple, tangible way to bring the outdoors in and to pay reverence to the changing seasons.
- We made a meal to honor an ancestor. I’m lucky enough to have a handwritten recipe for chicken pie from my great grandmother. Making a loved one’s favorite meal is a lovely way to pay tribute to their memory and keep their legacy alive. If you don’t have a specific recipe, you could try one that reflects your heritage instead.
Blessings to you and yours this fall season!
P.S. My children have been reading Strega Nona’s Harvest this season, and the themes of honoring the earth’s rhythms, planting and harvesting, and sharing in the bounty with neighbors have all reinforced our other fall activities.