||[Oct. 30th, 2009|01:19 pm]
The American Caliban
In my father's novel Bull Fire, the four holidays that most cultures share are named as follows:
The Greater Sunstop
The Lesser Sunstop
Happy Pandemonium, everyone!
I would have though Pandemonium was the 4th of July!
Nah, it literally means "hell" or "where all the demons are." the 4th of July is basically the Greater Sunstop.
Winter solstice being The Springing?
No, that's Easter (Spring). Also they jump over bulls.
Winter Solstice is the Lesser Sunstop. Those are named for the longest and shortest day.
I'm not quite grokking the "stop" part - is it that both are moments of equilibrium, greater/lesser referring to the length of the sun's stoppage? Kind of elegant. Reminds me of the religion Ursula Le Guin' invented for Always Coming Home (everything deriving from the central metaphor of the hinge, the space between, around which things [usually two of them] turn). I usually think of the solstices in terms of processes: waxing and waning. I like waxing, the winter solstice, best.
(Sorry I'm getting all meta on this.)
Interesting. Most of Melanesia is not terribly seasonal - or, more to the point, not 4-seasonal. Major ceremonies such as the nangol land-diving in Pentecost, the Rom dance in Ambrym and numerous others are based on the yam-planting season. In the past, disagreements over the precise timing of the planting has led to social upheaval, violence and even death.
BUT... many other major events like Tanna's famous Toka (a bacchanalian ritual featuring excesses of every kind) are socio-political rather than seasonal in their timing and location. The Toka is not guaranteed to happen on any particular year, and its location is a function of its purpose: to mend long-running disputes between communities and cement peace.
While there are any number of examples of 'running off the demons' throughout island cultures, they do not seem to be seasonally based.