Fall rituals prepare us for winter

By: Connor Mabon – Asst. Opinions Editor

For centuries, humans have celebrated nature’s bounty with harvest festivals before winter’s cool breath drifts in.
Despite the cold we’ve been feeling, winter doesn’t actually arrive until Dec. 21.

Autumn is a time of warm, inviting scents that effortlessly waft through kitchens everywhere feeling the change of seasons. Like harvested corn stalks or bunches of pumpkins, we tend to bundle up snug as skies remain overcast and the light rain does just enough to keep the temperature cool. Often, we may hover over a hearty bowl of something wholesome and delicious to satisfy our frigid bodies, wound tight from the Midwestern winds.

With the cold weather gradually moving in for its three-month-long shift, the dinner table becomes a luring device with a desirous, inescapable pull. The interpersonal communication we have amongst family or friends over heaping plates of food strings together past memories, current events and what may come in the future, to create a shared sense of true connection.

These traditions are what we think of when seasons transition, always marked by some defining characteristic. Speak of early autumn and naturally one may visualize piles of raked leaves, or the smell of crushed, wet acorns mixed with the assault of pumpkin spice-laced fumes. The latter half of fall easing its way toward wintry months paints a different picture of bare trees and the occasional patch of snow.

This time of year, there seems to be the common thread of people “coming together,” whether it’s with extended family or good friends. It’s great that there is a specific time we dedicate to being thankful, but it should be everyday we’re thankful for how the earth nourishes us through the food it provides. Prior to the convenience of the supermarket and industrialization of food, people saw this time of year as such an important aspect of their existence because of their close relationship with the Earth.

Bulking up on what the harvest provided before winter’s arrival was a habit as natural as our obsession with checking our social media today. Hardship, in our ancestor’s case a risk to their survival, almost always coincides with people around a prepared feast, a tradition we’ve maintained throughout much of human history.

Seeing it from this angle almost makes one rethink how to interpret the seasons we thought just brought about unfavorable weather conditions. Our hurried and mindless sense of living plays into our general lack of interest in preparing a meal from scratch, then sitting down to patiently enjoy it. Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas remind us to slow down and appreciate the world and people around us.

Returning to family roots and to the dinner table may be the saving grace that will effectively hold together an already deteriorating fabric of humanity and salvage what’s left of our shared and beloved cultural traditions.