Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, especially for holidays, both secular and spiritual. It is a visible time of change, when the heat of the summer finally subsides. The laughter from the playgrounds near my house intensifies as the children play in the leaves that have fallen, and enjoy running around without risking heat exhaustion. I find fall to be a time of reflection and preparation and, of course, it is a huge season for holidays of many cultures and faiths.
One of the holiday seasons that I have found myself most interested in is on the Jewish calendar. Elul usually lands in fall, and this time of preparation for some of the most important High Holy Days is one of great importance. It is a time of celebration, reflection, forgiveness, and generosity of spirit.
What is Elul?
Elul is celebrated the 12th month of the Jewish year and the 6th month on the Hebrew calendar. It is noted to be an acronym for “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” meaning “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” It is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This holiday time ends with Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
What I find most wonderful about this time of year is the absolute dedication during these High Holy days to let go of the things your have done in the past year, to let go of the sins/mistakes that you have committed and be free of them. This freedom isn’t meant to absolve you of them, but to bring heightened awareness of them to you so that you can hopefully learn and grow.
I find such a focused reflection soothing and wonderful.
Fall is also the season of my personal favorite holiday, Halloween!
Expect to see far too many blog posts on the history of Halloween, crafts that you can make, possible costume ideas for the busy parent, and a host of excited posts about how you too can embrace this wonderful holiday– did I mention it is my favorite?
October is a time where we watch The Nightmare Before Christmas over and over, as well as listen to the soundtrack, where I decorate our front yard as a crime scene (yes, I’m *that* person in your neighborhood), and where I find myself compelled to make all things pumpkin!
Fall is also a wonderful time to explore nature!
This fall we have several special blog series coming up, the first of which is a series on Lunar Phases. For some reason I spent large parts of my childhood starting up at the sky in fall– probably because that was the most comfortable time with weather in The South.
It’s a time when my son has so many wonderful field trips at school including apple butter making, wandering around looking at leaves and even a visit to the Fire Station (every fall, I have no idea why :).
So, as you wander through our holiday blogs in the coming months, I hope you learn something new, reaffirm what you already have known or just enjoy broadening your knowledge of cultures and their holidays.
May you find time during the next month to let go of your burdens, to own your mistakes, to mend relationships and to celebrate the wonderful relief you find by acknowledging and learning from all of these things.
at The Researcher’s Gateway
Videos you might enjoy!
A wonderful conversation from the creator of Wrapunzel.com about Elul and some misconceptions of Yom Kippur and Jewish guilt. We’ve learned so much from her over the years and this video (posted today) is an eloquent explanation that I found moving and wonderfully inclusive whether you are Jewish or not!