PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Holidays
Time-Policing Our Holidays: Or, Why Americans on Social Media Are Hating On Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin spice.

1. What is it?

A mix of spices used in autumn harvest celebration foods, including pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple pastry, apple crisp, squash pie, pear crisp, and things that are supposed to taste like them, for example, spiced cider, spiced hard cider, spiced coffee, spiced wine, spiced mead, and spiced ice cream.

The basic spices are:
(allspice, sometimes)
(cardamom, sometimes)

So, for those of you outside the USA, it's basically the same spices as Lebkuchengewürz except without the coriander and star anise. When one sees a Facebook meme mocking pumpkin spice that starts with "white girls be like" they are referring to the fact that this holiday spice mixture is similar to a German holiday spice mixture. The idea behind those memes is that only Germanic descended people go nuts over this flavor, but that's really not true. All kinds of Americans like pumpkin pie and apple pie.

2. Why is it a seasonal flavor?

It's used to flavor things made from seasonal produce like pumpkins and apples. The harvest seasons for pumpkins, squashes, apples, pears, and so forth in the USA extend from August to December, since different vegetables and fruits come on at different times and the USA is so large that it has many different climates with different dates of the onset of frost.

3. Why are people mocking it?

Americans have been conditioned to time-police our holidays by observing the practice of our large corporations to start selling holiday related merchandise while another holiday is still coming up (for example, putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween), and in the case of Christmas, the practice of piping holiday music into the stores starting so early that it is nearly universally acknowledged that it reaches homicidal levels of annoying by the time the actual holiday rolls around. Americans think September is too early to start selling harvest celebration flavors. The people are attempting to time-police our corporations over it and shame each other into not supporting the practice by purchasing the product too early. The purpose of this social shaming is to cause the public to wait to make holiday purchases until the correct holiday season, and thus to cause market pressure to influence corporations to wait to attempt to sell holiday products until the correct holiday season.

4. Why are people saying it's "too early"?

To understand why Americans think selling a harvest celebration flavor almost precisely on the date of the autumnal equinox is "too early" one must first realize that the USA has an official national holiday to celebrate harvest in November, Thanksgiving. It's not celebrated in other countries at all, but it's actually our biggest national holiday -- at least for adults. Kids get a week off for Christmas and Easter, but adults only get 1 day for those if they work at a place that closes for national holidays, or if they work at a place where they can request religious holidays off and have requested the Christian set of holidays, but we get two days for Thanksgiving, a Thursday and a Friday, making for a 4 day weekend for those who get weekends off. It's the only national holiday that's more than one day.

5. Where can I learn more?

To read more about the origin, functions, importance, and modern practices surrounding Thanksgiving, and other holidays celebrated in the USA, see my book American Celebration.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The local Barnes & Noble had pumpkin spice muffins this Saturday. They even had free samples to entice people to buy them. I had

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Holding a Heathen Ritual Upstairs

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my path, in the late 90s I started holding my own blots and sumbels in my apartment. My local area had neither festivals with public rituals nor any heathen groups I could find to join, so I started holding the holidays myself, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. When I had non-heathen friends over for the holidays of the American holiday calendar, I did my holidays the American way. That eventually grew into my personal practice which I talk about in my book American Celebration. 

When I held specifically Asatru rituals, I usually held a sumbel (toasting ritual) but also sometimes held a blot (blessing) in addition. In preparing to hold a blot or sumbel for the first time, there was a practical consideration: Where do I pour out the blotbolli or horn? At the end of a heathen ritual, there is leftover liquid-- usually mead these days-- in a bowl (for a blot) or a horn (for a sumbel.) This liquid is supposed to be given to the landwights. I would have had to leave ritual space to access the ground, which was a common strip of lawn used by all the neighbors, down a flight of stairs. So I decided to pour the horn or bowl into my potted plants on the balcony, which I called "the hanging gardens of Las Vegas."

Offering through my plants connected my potted garden, in which I grew food, flowers, and small trees, with the land spirit. There is something very primal, very pagan, about gardening. It connected me with the land, the seasons, the weather, and all those gods and beings related to those things: spring maiden and harvest lord, sun and rain, and the spirits of nature.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs


The Vanic New Year is the spring equinox in March, which in the language of the Vanir they call Eshnaia Agreta (esh-NIGH-ya ah-GREYtah), or Green Awakening.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Lesson in Carrots and Sticks

Two Christmases ago, my husband gave me a lemon tree for my garden. Last month, after I spent a whole year waiting and watering and wringing my hands, it finally produced one full-grown lemon.

For awhile, the lemon looked more or less yellow, but I held off on picking it because it still had a blush of green on the underside. I had elaborate plans for it: I would give it as an offering to the Morrigan, my matron deity, and dry the skin for magical work. I would use the juice for some very special dish or drink--a sacred mojito, maybe! I dreamed and planned and admired my lemon until one day, it disappeared.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Interesting story, but I don't see where the gratuitous Republican straw man bashing adds anything positive to your essay.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_imbolc.jpgThe last holiday of the Vanic year (as the Vanic new year is the spring equinox) is called Rasthuas Ja'enladata (RAHS-thoo-ahs JIGH-en-lah-dah-tah) [in Eshnesk, the language of the Eshnahai, or citizens of Vanaheim) - translated as Lights of the Winter Storm, observed in early February, where lights are burned through the worst winter storms of the year as a reminder that soon the spring will come.  This is the holiday where the Queen's half of the year and time of influence begins, power rising again in anticipation of the spring.

The Queen arrives at the ritual site at the capital, wearing a crown with unlit candles.  A representative from each of the twenty-four tribes wields a wand and draws down light from the stars to light each candle. When all the candles are lit in the crown, the Queen lights a candle for each of the tribes to bless them, as the King dances around the Queen, spinning fire, a token of offering his power so that the Queen's power may rise. When all of the tribal candles are lit, the Queen removes the crown and places it on the snow, and the King and Queen mate ritually on the stone table in the sacred circle; the first sign of green growth appears, rising up in the circle of the crown, which will survive the rest of the cold season.  The mating of the King and Queen empowers the candles with light and life and the gift of joy.  When the mating is done, the tribal representatives take their candles and each tribal candle is used to light a candle for every individual within that tribe, so the Queen's light is given to all of Vanaheim and the land can begin to thaw from the winter and people's spirits can be lifted in hope.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

(excerpted from my book, Visions of Vanaheim)

b2ap3_thumbnail_candles.jpgAt the end of October is Rasthuas Mahareyan (RAHS-thoo-ahs mah-hah-RAY-ahn), which is Eshnesk (the language of the Eshnahai, the name the Vanir call themselves [via corroborated gnosis]) for the Lights of Remembrance.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Holiday Rhythms

I awoke this morning to the smell of crisp fall air coming in my window.  It rained a little last night and I can smell that, too.  Today we gather for the first of several Samhain rituals this year as my circle is spending this season visiting other communities to learn more about how others experience the holidays.  It feels a little early for Samhain, but honestly, this holiday always comes rushing forth.  I never feel quite prepared.  This is my favorite time of year and there are always more fun things I'd like to do before the year ends.

One of my favorite parts of being a pagan is the way our holidays provide rhythm and movement to my life.  No matter what I'm doing with my work or my relationships, those six weeks always pass by the same and suddenly, another holiday is upon us.  Despite more than two decades living like this, I have to admit that they sneak up on me more often than I'd like.  Even as I build my livelihood out of my spiritual life, it is still so easy to get caught up in the mundane things going on that I don't notice the signs of season's change all around me. 

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hmmm...For more than a decade I've lived my life around a different calendar. for me it's Samhain-tide or soon to be Lammas and I
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Yes indeed, it is such a lovely rhythm! So good to have you at our Samhain last night up in the North Bay!

Additional information