I spend a good deal of time discussing the importance of savoring the moment, the season. There no greater time than Autumn for this in my family. We create environment, educational activities, food favorites, family festivities, and add our own Catholic spin by accessing the old traditions.
Environment Full of Fall
The environment of one’s home affects well-being for people in different ways. The decor of my home is a place to rest mine eye, to pause, breathe, and find delight in the every day moments as they go by.
A few years ago I took a yard or two of orange fabric, cut into rectangles and with graphite paper traced festive lettering onto the fabric to spell the words, “Beatus Autumnum.” This means “blessed autumn.” With a hot glue gun I affixed the rectangles to kitchen twine. Its appearance marks the beginning of fall in our home. With pumpkins, a piece of Halloween art by Patricia Palermino and autumnal colored throws to the living room the scene is complete. The emergence of seasonal decorating adds to the anticipation of things to come and sends the message: there is a change here.
Fall Education Activities
This is my first year fully engaged with the homeschool process. Whether in school or homeschool the opportunities seem limitless. There countless are songs, coloring, crafts and storybooks, set to the seasons. This year we are singing a German Folk Song, “Autumn leaves are a-falling.”
Favorite Fall Foods
Human beings have elaborate practices created around the preparation and consumption of food. We have our favorite flavor seen in every food and spice since Starbucks debuted it in latte form in 2003.
While the world around us raves for pumpkin spice we fall in line as my husband adds pumpkin pie spices to my morning home-brewed latte. When Trader Joe’s brings in their fall favorites, we purchase spiced apple cider and butternut squash. The squash becomes soup. Acorn squash may be churned to homemade ice cream. In fall, more than other seasons it is easier to find those special recipes that are had only at that time of year.
Family festivities abound. Pumpkin picking (or buying) and carving, in the past running our own little roadside pumpkin stand (to resume next year, we hope), buying granny smith apples from my parent’s neighbor, planning Halloween costumes, an Oktoberfest gathering, and watching films like “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” are things we look forward to each year. Traditions, however simple, become rituals that one can rely on, stability in an unstable world.
Fall’s Catholic Spin
To all this, there is the Catholic spin. I love the religion to which I belong in part because of her many traditions. Some families are rediscovering the old ones, still practiced in other countries but largely forgotten here, such as Michaelmas (September 29) to mark the change of season.
My family leans heavily into All Saints Day, the second day of a triptych of days inviting us to focus on the last things. In this vein, Halloween is not so much about making ourselves afraid, but reminding us who we have to fear and that death was conquered. All Saints Day (November 1) turns that focus towards the reward of a life well-lived. All Souls Day (Dia de los Muertos, November 2) implores us remember those still striving and to pray for our beloved dead. Further explanation goes beyond this post, but these beliefs allow my family to lean in instead of reject the surrounding culture, and engage it in a way not contrary to our faith.
From trick-or-treating to setting a place of remembrance, these are high holy days for our family, and a crown leading us to the month of Thanksgiving.
What are your favorite fall traditions?