But since it is the Solstice, it’s time for my quarterly rant against the largest and most insidious mind-control effort by the media – perpetuating the myth that today is the Beginning of Winter. At best, we’re bombarded by this misguided factoid because some media mogul, like Hearst or Murdoch, had a bet that he could make the country believe something fabricated on half-truths. At worst, well, more sinister conspiracy theories exist, but people who ask questions about them tend to disappear. I’m not really a journalist, so I’m going to ignore the side of the story that I don’t like (hey, just like Fox!).
The point is, the media has decided the start of the seasons for us. Yes, solstices and equinoxes (that plural always sounds weird to me), are scientific facts that relate to climactic changes through the year, but that doesn’t mean they herald a new season.
The fallacy of this belief was readily apparent during my time in Anchorage. Anyone who lives where Halloween trick-or-treating is done in heavy coats and snow boots knows that by December 21st, Winter has not just arrived, but settled in and put its feet up. Of course, that far North, Winter lasts well into May, so for those parts of the world, I suggest marking the seasons by weather (for more on that, click here).
Recently, however, it occurred to me that one could use holidays to mark the change of seasons, like this:
Winter: Thanksgiving through President’s Day
Spring: President’s Day through Memorial Day
Summer: Memorial Day through Labor Day
Autumn: Labor Day through Thanksgiving.
Perfectionists would argue that these divisions don’t give even 13-week seasons, but I would point out that this system might not be precise, but it’s better. Why? Because it joins the change of seasons with celebrations and ritual. I typically associate the first of each month with writing a rent check. Not the most exciting chronological landmark, so the one-season-equals-three-calendar-months plan lacks a little. But using the holidays to mark the change of seasons gives additional symbolic significance; the transitions become celebrated events. At Thanksgiving, we not only reflect on what we are grateful for, but acknowledge that Winter weather is upon us. This makes New Year’s a mid-winter celebration, which seems fitting, and President’s Day (which admittedly is mostly celebrating a Day Off From Work), can include looking for the first shoots pushing up from the ground and the return of Spring. And doesn’t it feel natural to have summer last from Memorial Day to Labor Day?
I know my rantings aren’t likely to change the cultural consciousness. However, if you’re reading this, you’re obviously too clever to be fooled by the natterings of network anchors, who merely read what’s put in front of them by their corporate masters. Perhaps someone who has been bothered by an uneasy sense that the solstice-as-start-of-season doesn’t work for them will find this and have a life-changing epiphany. As far as I’m concerned, if I save even one person who would have been sacrificed during an extra-long set of commercials, it’s worth it.