While the Northern Hemisphere turns toward the cold month slow down this time of year, down South, things are just really starting to heat up. In the Southern Hemisphere, spring makes its arrival, normally around the 22 or 23 of September. Beginning on the 19th of the month, (give or take depending on the calendar) the Spring Equinox gets underway.
For those who follow the Wheel of the Year, traditional celebrations that celebrate rebirth and reawakening occur. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, Beltane is celebrated around October 31st, and the Summer Equinox begins in late December.
Spring, for any hemisphere, is when Mother Earth wakes from her slumber, and growth and possibility are born. Today, we going to visit a few countries and take a closer look at some of the celebrations and festivals that welcome this time.
Our first visit is to Chile. On the days leading up to September 18th, the country not only welcomes the coming of spring, but also hosts huge celebrations in honor of gaining their independence from Spain. There are parades to see, music, food, and dancing. Many of the festivities are held in large, open-air buildings, and refreshment stands, or Fondas, line the streets, offering up traditional snacks and beverages.
On to Argentina. Throughout the Americas, October 12th is typically celebrated as Columbus Day, in honor of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492. In Argentina, and other Spanish speaking countries, the Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race is honored. In Southern American countries, this day is not so much a celebration of the New World being discovered; rather it is treated as a way of paying homage to the natives of the land, and the impact of contact by the settlers. For some, it is, quite simply, a long weekend to be enjoyed with friends and family.
With our bellies full we continue our adventure, arriving in Peru, just in time for Dia de Todos Santos, or Saints Day, or perhaps, more familiar to some, All Hallows. Declared a national holiday, this is a day where people honor those thought to be saints, who are still amongst the living. If November 1st is the day they honor the living Saints, it is the 2nd that has been dedicated to those Saints who are no longer with us. This is the day you will find family members and friends decorating the graves of the departed with fresh flowers and food offerings. Because Peruvians only incorporated Christian beliefs, they never sacrificed their own indigenous practices, and at one time their Cult of the Dead was held in very high importance. The evening of November 1st and into the morning of the second is when you will find loved ones gathering at grave sites as a sign of remembrance, of love and of connection to those departed.
We’ll finish our journey today, in a bit of a selfish manner for me. The month of October welcomes The Melbourne International Arts Festival. While not a calendar based holiday, this festival, hosted over 17 days, has become a world renowned event since its start in 1986. The festival is all encompassing, including theater, dance, music, multimedia and more. What better way to end a whirl-wind trip through the Southern Hemisphere, and what better way to celebrate spring than on that brings creators from all over the world together to show off their wares.