Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 October Holidays Way Better Than Halloween

The best part of that final bike ride is passing a Clydesdale at Grant's Farm in St. Louis

I have a confession to make.  I’m not a fan of Halloween.  Oh sure, it’s a license to eat candy corn until I fall into a diabetic coma.  However, that whole figuring-out-a-costume, carving-a-pumpkin – caring – thing has never put me into any kind of autumn holiday mood.

The contemporary transformation of Halloween into a competitive sport makes me want to run from the day even faster.  Orange lights weave in and out branches of trees, 10-foot tall blow-up pumpkins spring like mushrooms on lawns, and witches fly across yards on their brooms.  Two aisles at the supermarket are dedicated to October holiday paraphernalia.

Yet all I want to do on the evening of October 31 is turn off my porch light, close all my curtains, and watch television in a back corner of my house.  Halloween has never made my toes tingle with enthusiasm.  There’s no real reason.  It just doesn’t do it for me as a holiday.

Then again, I could think of a lot of other things that would be great ways to celebrate the season.  Here are a few new holidays I’d like to add to the calendar.

Planting Fall Pansies Day

The ground is still soft enough to dig, so we should all decorate our front gardens and steps with the brightest purple and yellow pansies that you can find.  This should stave off winter for another month.

Jump In a Pile of Leaves Day

With the rise of the leaf-blower culture there aren’t enough kids out there raking leaves for movie money.  I can’t remember the last time I walked down a street and saw a kid trying to bury herself in a pile of crisp brown oak leaves or trying to stuff a handful down the back of a sibling’s sweater.  We need a day in October or early November when we turn off the leaf blowers and pull out the rakes in memory of a time when life was simpler (and quieter).

Halloween is fairly new to France.  Kids in Dijon casually stroll from store to store
collecting treats - costume optional

Last Bike Ride of the Year Day

I admit I’m a fair-weather rider.  You’ll never see me out there in a face mask and all the special clothing my bike-riding husband wears to battle the icy winds, winter rain, and sleet that starts about the same time as Halloween.  That’s why people like me need a special day to pause and recognize that this is the last ride we’ll take until April (or March if it’s a mild winter).  We can pedal slowly down our favorite path, remembering the warmth of the sun on our back, the days when we could hit the road early or stay out after dinner because the light lasted forever.  Then we put our bikes away until the return of goldfinches at the bird feeder signal it’s time to pull it out in the spring.

Unpacking of Winter Sweaters Day

You’ll never catch me living someplace where winter temperatures climb much above 40º in winter.  You see, I’m addicted to sweaters.  How many?  Let’s just say a cedar hope chest so full the top doesn’t close fully.  Each year I begrudgingly give away one or two in anticipation of the new ones I know are coming in.  Winter sweaters can comfort you when the sun is low and you can’t muster enough energy to care what you’re wearing.  Or the deep jewel tones of ruby or lapis lazuli can brighten a gray day and scream “I’m not letting this weather get me down!”  Who doesn’t have a favorite Shetland wool or après ski or dress argyle sweater that they want to be buried in?  We need to celebrate all that our favorites mean to us.

First Pot of Chili of the Season Day

My hairdresser, Jill, reminded me of this most important day.  No matter how you like it – mild, vegetarian, spicier than a jar of Beyonce – that first pot marks a no-turning-back point in the seasons.  It’s a dense meal that warms from the inside out.  You’re never tempted to pull out that crockpot in the middle of August, are you?

When the days get short, though, and the autumn wind kicks up you long to sit in front of your TV holding a hot bowl of chili, perhaps dressed in you favorite comfy sweater still spotted with remnants of the leaves you jumped in.  Chili announces that you are settling in for the winter – a culinary solstice, if you will. So let’s mark the day when you accept the inevitable.

Now these are some of the holidays I could really get behind in October.  The best part of all of them is how extremely low-cal they are compared to the Big H.  What others would you suggest?  Please share them all in the comments box and let’s see what we can get started before we get to the bottom of our kids’ trick-or-treat stash.

What October is really about in Forest Park, St. Louis

ADDENDUM:  I only posted this a few hours ago but I see one big celebration I missed.  When enjoying Leah Singer's wonderful blog post on autumn, especially the Jewish Festival of Harvest -- Sukkot -- I realized that we ALL could celebrate the harvest.  Even the smallest backyard gardener is lamenting the last homegrown tomato of the year or the last cutting of daisies for a vase.  So I think we need to add a National Harvest Day to the calendar, too. 


Nadine Feldman said...

Fantastic, Julie! I love your holidays much better.

This is my first fall in more than 30 years in a place where fall actually arrives! I'm getting used to the whole sweater thing, and I'm with you on the bike riding. I have a husband like that, too...but not me!

I would call October "Get Quiet" month. I'm getting the garden ready for winter, but mostly I'm enjoying the fact that the summer festivals are over. I'm turning down social invitations (except for Sukkot, which is my favorite holiday) in favor of taking time for quiet and solitude. Oh, it's also The Tourists are Gone so Let's Go Hiking Month. There are great hiking areas that get really crowded in the summertime, and in October the weather is still good enough to enjoy them without all the crowds.

Melinda said...

The chili thing really hit home. When the first chills hit all I want to do is make my first batch of chili, then I really feel that fall is here.

Julie Farrar said...

I was all ready to make chili this weekend, but now it's supposed to be 80º. So maybe a quick hike. The leaves are starting to change. I like your idea, Nadine, of "get quiet" celebration (an oxymoron?).

Liv Rancourt said...

You know what I'm missing most this fall? Soccer. Neither kid is playing this year, and sitting in the bleachers for my son's football game isn't the same thing as stalking the sidelines watching the girls play. This may be redundant for those of you with a more global viewpoint, but I'd love a national Soccer day!

Julie Farrar said...

Hi Liv. I'm sure there's some kind of International Soccer Day connected with the World Cup. As mother to a soccer-playing daughter I'm sure many would appreciate the boost here in the U.S. with Soccer Day.

Muriel said...

My daughters love Halloween. I don't get it. Maybe it is a generation thing. I much prefer your holidays!

Julie Farrar said...

Well, Muriel. Think of it as the anti-All Saints Day that the French celebrate. It started out being about goblins and witches. Now I don't get it either. Not sure what its point is anymore.

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