I think what I'm reacting to isn't really "seasonal" in the sense of thermometer or foliage color. But it may come down to the fact that there are many diverse paths within the pagan umbrella and the path I follow is focused a bit differently than many others. For example, I'm a classical polytheist... I don't follow a tradition that enshrines a goddess and a god, there isn't a Maiden/Mother/Crone trinity, and the individual gods are not just facets of a larger divine. Oh sure, I wiggle and wobble on various points and personal change is inevitable, but it means that some of my outlook just doesn't mesh with other outlooks. Which is totally fine by me... the multitude of paths up the mountain is part of what attracted me to paganism to begin with.
So anyway, within my framework the different holy days don't actually celebrate the seasons as such... they celebrate seasonal elements, yes, but they... argh! I'm having so much trouble coming up with words! Not my normal problem, I know.
Ok, analogy time. Gardening. You look at catalogs, you order seed, you start your plants, you move them out/thin them out, you water/weed/nurture, you harvest your crop, and then you can/dry/preserve the extra. WHAT
crop you grow and WHEN
each step happens varies depending on where you are and your personal preferences, but the general ORDER
remains the same. It doesn't make a lot of sense to weed the garden after you've harvested your crop, or to water the ground every morning for weeks before you order your seeds, or to pull out the canning equipment and sit it next to your young sprouts each day. Obviously there's no reason not
to do these things, and looking at seed catalogs year round can be a huge amount of fun, but if you want a vibrant garden and a full pantry you'll still need to do certain things in a certain order.
Or, um... getting dressed. What you wear varies by region and culture and personal preference but for ease and reliability of outcome there is a certain order to getting dressed that seems to work best. You can put your shoes on before you put on your pants, or put your shirt on before putting on a bra, or style your hair before pulling on a turtleneck. It's not like you shouldn't
do it that way, and you may really like the look you get, or find it amusing to spend the extra minutes getting a shoe through a pant leg or twisting to pull the bra through the sleeves of the shirt. But in general there is a certain order that works better than others in terms of getting out the door in a timely manner.
In my tradition, "right action" is an important element. How
you do something is as important as why
. If a diety has asked for X to be offered in the ritual, then an offering of Y isn't going to work... it's got to be X. If you only have Y you can certainly offer it, and explain the situation to that deity, and it will probably be a pretty good ritual. But it wont be the "original" ritual and you're in uncharted territory in terms of what the outcome might be. You find this specificty in a lot of native religions... from first nation peoples who can no longer worship properly because they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands (or had sacred mountains carved to look like faces or "topped" for mining purposes) to modern jewish communities who cannot follow ritual laws due to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem or the fact that there simply aren't enough people to make a minyan. Where
they are affects what
they can do properly.
Anyway... some of the melding of holiday "stuff" is sort of like that for me. The stuff is fun, and it's fun to see. There's no reason not to have the stuff around. But in terms of the religion/tradition behind the stuff it doesn't "count" to have the stuff out and about at the "wrong" time. The ancestors (in my tradition) don't really care if you put out Samhain "stuff" and memorialize them in July. I'm sure they'd appreciate the attention.
But the rituals wouldn't "count" if they were done in July... you'd still need to do them "for real" in October.
For me, the "stuff" helps get me in the mood for the various rituals and responsibiles. Sort of a visual shortcut to a state of mind/spirit. But if I've been looking at Samhain decorations for 4 or 5 months they don't have the same impact... they're fun (and I actually do leave some Samhain decore up year round because I LOVE it) but I can't use them as a spiritual/emotional short cut anymore.
And given that (again in my tradition) the energies and "purpose" of Samhain are widely different from the energies and "purpose" of Yule it's a bit discordant to see them on the same shelf... like hanging the butchering tools and a recipe for veal on the wall of the lambing shed. There is a certain truth to having the symbols of "life change through death" sitting next to the symbols of "life change through birth", but it still feels almost disrespectful to the two different sides of the coin... almost as if I'm denying each it's due?
So... ummm... I've probably jumbled my thoughts even more *(and thank gods for the computer battery because we lost power about 20 minutes ago and I'm sitting in a cold, dark, room listening to the rain fall as I cuddle with the kiddos... we all have fevers and shivers so pardon on typos too).