Tuesday, August 7, 2007

End of Summer: Tu B'Av and August's Cross-Quarter

Night turns to day, evening follows morning, and the season turn around the year.

Today, August 7, is the astronomical cross-quarter day. This is the day that we are just as close to the coming northern hemisphere Autumnal Equinox as we are to the Summer Solstice, celebrated in June. The time at which the earth is exactly half-way between the point of solstice and the point of equinox is at 18: 25 MDT.

Above is this morning's sunrise taken from the top of our driveway. I have trying to get a sunset position picture, but I have been "skunked" by the monsoon.

This is the sunrise taken from the porch. The sun rose this morning in exactly the same place as it did for the May cross-quarter.

This cross-quarter day has a number of cultural associations. In the old calendar, it is Lughnasad (often celebrated August 1 rather than on the cross-quarter day itself), which is a time to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season. It was the beginning of fall. When Christianity came to Europe, this feast became 'Lammas,' a contraction of 'loaf-mass,' the celebration and consecration of the first grain to be ground into to bread. This is also the time when "corn" dollies were made of the wheat stalks in the fields. In Spanish, the day is known as El Tiempo de la Segadora, the time of the reaper. This again commemorates the early harvest, and also denotes the height of the dry season in Mediterranian climates.

In the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar cognate was celebrated on Tu B'Av (the 15th of the month of Av), the wine harvest, when the marriagable young women of Jerusalem would dance under the full moon in the vinyards. Dressed in borrowed white dresses, they would put vines in their hair, and entice the young men, singing:

"Young man, consider neither silver nor gold,
nor the beauty of these maidens.
Consider instead the good families
from which they come,
that they may bring you worthy children."

They would then trample out the first grapes, staining the white dresses purple.

The next morning (Hebrew days start at sunset the evening before) was considered the last day of summer--the last day on which wood could be harvested for burning sacrifices in the temple, and was therefore known as "the day of hachets" because after this day, hachets were no longer needed for the year.
In modern Jewish culture, Tu B' Av has become a day to celebrate love and bring your "m'tuket" ('sweetie' (f)) flowers and sweets. It is kind of like the Christian St. Valentine's Day.

Tu B'Av was the evening of Sunday, July 29. We ate red grapes and my Sweetie gave me some flowers from the fields.

Here in New Mexico, we notice that although the shadows are still long, the summer heat is abating before the monsoons. The sky in the mornings is blue and white with the humidity of the previous evening's rains. The ground is wet, and the vegetation is glistening with dew. On our morning walk, we feel the the chill breeze of the coming autumn on our bare arms. We could almost wear jackets, but we don't want to give in to the end of summer quite yet.

The change of seasons is upon us and has become noticeable.
We begin to accept that there is no "endless summer."


Kaber said...

Jackets? in Ohio it's in the 90s. It's 80 in the morning! we swelter at night.. How do you get such nice cool weather down south?

I enjoyed your informative post.
(and am ready to move to California where the temps are between 40-75)

about Connor- he's had quite a few episodes of hearing loss with his ear. I have a feeling once all is said and done he'll have residual hearing loss. The tubes fix the hearing, but he went about (probably) 7 yrs with hearing loss that we didn't know (he had moderate to severe loss) and between each new tube he has hearing loss.

I lost all my blog links when my white computer died. so now I just get to blogs via notes..LOL

Megan from Imaginif said...

Oh no! Bring the summer back E. I have so enjoyed walking around with you.
I love the sound of your Tu B' Av. How sweet for B to bring your field flowers.
Paul and I are not overly commercial in existence or into gross consumerism and shun organised spend days (except Christmas). In protest to the commercialism of Valentines Day, we now skip the day BUT we do a date draw: he picks a month, I pick a date out of a hat. On that day, we have a family day. Works for us.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

How do we get so cool? Well, we live at about 7500 feet in elevation. And the monsoonal winds bring these cool breezes in the morning. This morning it was about 49 degrees. And the monsoons also bring more moisture to our dry air. You might still consider it dry by Ohio standards, but we feel the difference!

I saw that about your computer. Good luck re-establishing your links. It is problematic. There are some blogs that I visited a few times, but because I did not link and cannot remember the names, I have not got back to them!

Hey Megan,
We'll have summer for a few more weeks, but last year we had snow flurries here in the east mountains on Rosh HaShannah eve--which was in September. The seasonal change is quick at elevation!

But we will do more walking in the fall. It is quite beautiful up here then, too!
About your agreement with Paul:
Our rabbi (who is a singer/songwriter) has a song called: Valentine's Day is NOT a Jewish Holiday. In it he talks about giving chocolate and flowers the week after when they go on sale. And then he sings: "Honey, please unlock the bedroom door..."
It's quite cute!

Bruce does give me a card and I give him one. But we do flowers in season and I get a box of chocolates every two weeks or so. I eat them two pieces with my morning coffee. So good for the soul of a woman in perimenopause.

denise said...

Cool, dry mornings? Feeling of fall approaching???? Pack me up and put me on a plane, because I am so wishing I was there! ;)

We finally have the rain, but boy oh boy it is sure humid and HOT...I am sure you remember from the midwestern summers of your youth!

I so enjoy reading your blog and learning about holidays, ritual, history...thank you for sharing!

mcewen said...

Seasonal change! Already! Wonderful views your way.
Best wishes

Judy Aron said...

It's been miserable hot humid and hazy here in CT .. although today is a rainy day (YAY!)

Thanks for a great post!

Megan at Imaginif said...

lol...chocolate for breakfast - E I think we are twins!!!!!

I have always said when I'm old and ecentric that I will have chocolate cake and custard for breakfast and cereal for tea.