Global Views: Autumnal Edition

An autumn tree on campus. (Megan Cloet)

Fall, or as many of us call it, Autumn, marks the seasonal transition from Summer to Winter; and during this metamorphosis, we in the Northern Hemisphere, witness the melancholic drop of daylight, the chill of the forthcoming winter, but also the joys of Harvest and the Celtic Medieval echoes of Halloween. Canada experiences Fall in the richness of its red and golden foliage, the overwhelming presence of pumpkin spice, awaiting the new iPhone, wearing infinity scarves (and not taking them off all day), and going on hunts for their favorite Cucurbita pepo. However these antics are dear to our heart, it is obvious that there exist different traditions and customs to the poetry of Fall in other parts of the World. So how do other cultures and countries mark this season?

The Great North’s friendly neighbor Mexico displays the fabulous colors, jubilations, and rituals of Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos . This holiday is celebrated throughout Mexico as well as in the Mexican diaspora. It is an important festivity as it honours the dead, while still celebrating the nature of life. Down in the Indian sub-continent, we witness the illumination of millions of miniature candlelights, or dia, marking the ancient Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Signifying the victory of light over dark, and good over evil, this vibrant observance is marked by fireworks, gift-exchange (very much like christmas) and enjoying delicious traditional food (my favourite are my grandmother’s sweets!) with your family and community.

While most of you Quill readers commemorate Fall through September to October, the southern hemisphere enjoys the beauty of the season from March to May. In the southern regions of Africa and in Australia, Easter falls during this mellow season, thus the distinct springlike themes of resurrection, relief, fertility, sustenance, and hope are not as natural and visible to these regions. To compensate and mimic the theological symbolism of Christ’s resurrection during a time of decay, people relate Easter to Harvest, and utilize the flora of the season. Examples include the vivid Nerine bowdenii flower, and the Baobab tree with its life giving properties- it’s fruit (the same size as an Easter egg) embodying the progressing power of energy and vigour, even when your vicinity is degenerating for winter, and serves as metaphor for the power of life over death. Utilizing native Easter symbols allows people in the Southern Hemisphere to celebrate the nature around them, rather than Northern symbols; It’s a poetry of resurrection actually felt in the creation around them.