In the Southern Hemisphere, as you doubtless know (unless you are the victim of an unfortunate education system), the seasons are the opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. I am a Colonial, insofar as I live in a post-colonial country that was once a part of the British Empire and is now a part of the Commonwealth. As such, my ancestors brought their cultural traditions with them from Britain and Ireland to the new Promised Land of New Zealand.
Meaning? Well, it means religious and cultural secular holidays that are associated with particular dates - Easter and Christmas primarily, but Halloween also - are no longer matched up with the seasons. Traditional decorations remain largely the same: holly and snow around Christmas (although, pleasingly, the sun and the pohutukawa are gaining ground here), pumpkins around Halloween, pastel colours around Easter. People sing "Jingle Bells" as if it had a damn thing to do with Christmas. It's annoying, and frustrating, and sometimes I dream of moving somewhere nice like Scotland where the sun doesn't spend four months of the year trying to kill you and cultural holidays are more in line with my religious ones. It's weird celebrating the Summer Solstice when everyone is pissing around saying "Happy Yule!"
I actually love celebrating secular Eksmas* in summer. It's a unique sort of thing. Everybody gets about four weeks off, and spends the whole time lying around wearing very little and drinking gin and tonics or sparkling wine with strawberries in it. People play beach cricket, the entire world seems to relax the fuck out, and the world is pleasant. I even feel this way despite not particularly liking summer. It is fucking awesome, and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere should come down and try it at least once in their lives.
So where does that leave me? Yule on one end of the year, Midsummer on the other, and here I am with my major religious focus at the opposite end to everyone else's major family focus holiday. The eating and drinking and giving of gifts happens in December, not June the way I feel it should, and I celebrate my Yuletide essentially alone. In the future, if I find myself a nice little Kindred or a partner with similar religious leanings, this may change. But for now, well, I am going to respond to my family and community. Midsummer was, for our Heathen ancestors, still a big holiday. There were Things, and Maypoles, and happy enjoyment. There's no reason really I can't marry that with the secular Eksmas of my country.
Too long have I vaguely overlooked Midsummer in my Heathen practice. I've held blót every year, of course, usually to Tyr and sometimes Sunna also. This year, I plan to incorporate more of how summer is celebrated (consciously or not) in my country into my own religious summer celebrations. I'm going to extend my Midsummer for a few days, and incorporate Eksmas into it. It will be strange, but to many people how Eksmas works here would be strange anyway, so there we are. I am a bit of a come-as-you-are Pagan, so this little experiment will develop as I go along, and of course in no way will Midsummer become as important to me as Yule has always been, but nevertheless I am excited to incorporate things a little more each way.
Now, back to Eksmas shopping.
*My reason for "Eksmas" is twofold. Firstly, I watch too much Futurama, and have acquired their pronunciation of Xmas. I am well aware that "X" stands in for the Greek "Chi" and is an initial of Christ, hence Xmas, Xian and so on. Second, I am aware also that the secular holiday of Christmas and the religious holiday of Christmas, while occurring at the same time of year and sharing many symbols, are nevertheless not the same holiday. Out of respect therefore for our Christian friends, I would not want to call this holiday "Christmas" or "Xmas", and so, Eksmas. I hope my reasoning for this is clear and offends as few people as possible.