Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
Daylight Saving Time
is having a banner year. The new energy bill
will extend it by one month starting in 2007, handing it a commanding seven months of the calendar. New legislation in Indiana
, one of only three states to shun DST, will end a county-by-county melee of Standard and Daylight Saving Times and bring the whole state on board. In 2006 only Arizona and Hawaii will be outside the DST club. And Hawaii has a very good reason, what with being awfully close to the equator and all.
DST is clearly doing something right with politicians, but imprecision in language
costs it a lot of love down in the streets. Both the springing ahead in April and the falling back in October are glossed with the explanation, "Oh, Daylight Saving Time is this weekend." There is rarely a mention of whether it's coming or going. In the October version, this is often followed by groans and complaints about the sun setting earlier and winter approaching. The odd early riser is smugly satisfied but Daylight Saving Time bears the brunt of everyone else's Seasonal Affective Disorder
Maybe that's because it's hard to believe that what we are all lamenting is Standard Time. Standard Time sounds so true, so plum, so gosh-darn regular. It must be the source of all that is good and light. Of course, in the fall we're switching back to Standard Time; it is Standard Time, with is solar zenith at noon, that puts the sun to sleep while we are still at work. But, with a name like Standard Time, who's going to suspect it? It's the norm. It's that confounded Daylight Saving Time that causes all the trouble. That's the one we all hear about when ever anyone starts monkeying with the clocks.
DST has three options to shake off this undeserved onus. It could lobby people to speak more precisely and say "Oh, it's Standard Time this weekend." (Not likely to meet with success.) It could push for the adoption of the more direct term the rest of the world uses, Summer Time. (Might as well campaign for the Metric System
.) Or Daylight Saving Time could seize Standard Time's de facto credibility by making a play for those last five months and becoming standard itself
Perhaps we credit Constantine
with too much. His witty retooling of traditional rural faith has allowed us to remember days of festival while forgetting their purpose. May Day's festival of fertility is circumvented by Mother's Day or overshadowed by the pomp and millinery of Easter
. Although I imagine that public Great Rite
circles would generally be frowned upon and more puritanical minds may blush at the suggestion made by Maypoles, the denial of rural faiths are not so religiously motivated as they may have been in the time of Constantine. In fact, the motivations which challenge these old rituals are quite divorced from dogma.
: Our heaviest holiday involves copious amounts of candy. Forgiving the absence of appropriate revelry, we chose to occupy ourselves and the cutest of our enclave with escapist finery. Abandoning the macabre (and respectful) origins of the holiday, we have morphed a revelry of death and cycle into a party for decadence and play acting. A party in which we pack small mouths with sweets as brightly colored as their adornments, give ourselves license to ignore our nutritional upbringing and remember our own joys in a time when candy really did make us happy. On the sugar low we can hardly mind when the malevolent spirits are chipping away at our souls.
Hallow's Eve, or Samhain, is the holiday in which we pay respect to the dead for their roles in our ongoing present. And as such, it is also a day of fantastic traffic
. Death, with his reputation as the great leveler, should also be credited for his wit, as on this day, your precious Aunt Fern attends the terrestrial party along with the asshole bully from your Junior High. And as with any population dense area, it is of great importance that we each see to protecting ourselves. Occasionally, protection has been enacted through illusion; the use of costumes in some cases honoring spirits past and, in other cases, warding them off with confusion.
The ceremonial (indeed ritual) colors of the day are orange and black
: orange to attract positive energies and black to banish negative. It's a challenge to identify these colors as markers of occult tradition, what with everyone mindlessly handing out candy corn
. Yet, the grandest irony, if not the greatest beauty, is that regardless of whatever bastardization our ever shifting society chooses to inflict upon the holiday, the aura of the season is felt by the willing, and has been felt for as long as there has been record.
Though banished as a festival with the coming of Christianity, the importance of Hallow's Eve could not be removed from our collective body. Struggle as we may, ignoring the place of the dead in our daily lives, (a practice we have industries
devoted to supporting), the fact is, we are made of the dead and we are living recollections of their roles in the world and in our own bodies
. The ritual of candy, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", and Dolly Madison commercials have reinterpreted the original celebratory festival, but is it any surprise? For so seldom do we ever have an explanation for our emotions, and how logical it is we joke to relieve our anxieties, and distract our fears with things which bring us comfort