Flowers and Holiday Traditions Around the World : Thanksgiving and Fall Flowers
Fall has always been my favourite season: the cool weather, that crisp smell of fallen leaves, the compulsion to dress in tweeds and plaids and settle down in a cosy corner with a pile of books.
I also love the autumn holidays. The season begins with the first harvest at the beginning of August (traditionally called Lammas or Lughnasadh). This was the original celebration of the grain harvest throughout Europe. At this time, decorate your house with corn dollies (figures crafted from woven grain stalks), sheaves of wheat, and Brigit's crosses (a geometric design in the shape of a four-armed pinwheel made from grasses or reeds).
Fall Equinox Flowers
The autumn equinox is the official start of fall when night and day are of equal length. It's a great time to decorate with corn cobs of different colours, fall leaves, gourds and squashes, seed pods, acorns, and autumn flowers.
Thanksgiving: Flowers and Feast
Every year, I look forward to Thanksgiving—observed on the second Monday in October in Canada and the fourth Thursday in November in the US. Though the tradtional Thanksgiving story of New England Pilgrims celebrating their first harvest in the New World with the local Native Americans who had helped them survive through winter has some basis in truth, the real roots of the Thanksgiving holiday go back to the earliest harvest celebrations.
Of course, the most important element of Thanksgiving is the feast—turkey with mom's special stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, yams, corn, pumpkin pie—but the table would be incomplete without a Thanksgiving flower centrepiece or cornucopia (horn of plenty).
The final autumn holiday is Hallowe'en, called Samhain (pronounced "sow-en") by the Celts and celebrated in Mexico as The Day of the Dead. Today, kids' Trick or Treat predominates the holiday, but at one time the celebration was far more solemn as it was thought that the veil between worlds was thinnest at this time of year. Honour your relatives and friends who have passed away, by leaving a candle burning in your window and reminicising. You can decorate at Hallowe'en with orange flowers or with white and black roses.