As the first of September approaches, young and old cannot feel neutral about the new moon. The actual events of the month differ from place to place but it cannot be denied that change is acoming, to paraphrase Bob Dylan.
In the United States, Labor Day marks the official end of the summer. After this holiday, salvation or hell is coming, depending on which side of the parent-child duo you are, as students of all ages go back to school. It also means the approaching end of the summer heat, to be replaced by the cool but pleasant weather of the fall. Hikers and garden owners will soon get to experience the changing of colors of the leaves and their covering on the ground, albeit with different reactions, at least in the Northeast and Northwest. Another result of the change of weather is the opportunity to wear the beloved sweater that has been buried, undesired, in the closet for many months. For those who bought new boots on sale at the end of the last season, it is now time to show them off. In the Pacific Northwest at least, the hunters and fishermen start planning their “campaigns”. Most of this is in the future, but anticipation is biggest part of pleasure. In terms of spectator sports, (American) football fans fully wake up from their hibernation, with everybody allowed, for the moment, the illusion that his or her team really can win the Super Bowl. By contrast, baseball fans go to completely meaningful or meaningless games, depending on the standings.
In Israel, September, the Hebrew months of Alul and Tishrei, it is also a time of change. Like in the United States, children from nursery school to high school start the school year. However, most curiously, this is only a dress rehearsal for the school year since once the “holidays” hit, i.e. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, they get another extended vacation. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar, the actual Gregorian date, but not the Hebrew day, of the holidays wanders a bit, with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, occurring somewhere between early to late September. This is quite meaningful for university students since university studies, logically in my mind, begin after Sukkot, meaning sometime between the end of September to close to the end of October. This year for example, it begins on October 26 at the college where I work. In terms of the weather, September brings with it the infamous “hamsin”, 50 in Arabic, referring to those horrible hot eastern desert winds that take your breath away. By law or tradition, on Yom Kippur, a day of avoiding intake of food and beverages, it must be hot and miserable to add to the suffering. Those of faith would say this suffering brings you closer to God. Curiously, it is also tradition, clearly not as dependable, that it must rain on Sukkot. I regret to say that the last year’s Sukkot shower only succeeded in getting everything wet but failed to secure a good rainfall for the winter. Religious people invest in mitzvot, good deeds, like taxpayers invest in December, since their fate for the upcoming year is in the balance until Yom Kippur. By contrast, non-religious people merely worry about surviving the numerous family feasts and the cost of keeping the children busy during Sukkot. In regards to getting out those winter clothes, there are at least two months to wait. As Tom Jones might say, change is the air.
So, September is the transition month from summer to fall. If you have any local September traditions, I would love to hear about them.