The Northern norm

forgets the south

In Western Christianity, Christmas is December 25th, which is the "old date" on which the winter solstice was celebrated. It is the "longest night," (in the northern hemisphere), and so it was a time of waiting for the light to come. This doesn't work in the southern hemisphere, since that same date is the longest day for those who live in the southern hemisphere. The same date is literally the sunniest time of year.

Likewise, Easter falls every year on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring solstice - in the northern hemisphere. This makes Easter, the season of new life and resurrection, firmly planted in the spring seasons of the hemisphere that selected these dates for the church calendar. Once again, it is the opposite in the southern hemisphere. In the global south, Jesus' resurrection is celebrated when the fall is beginning.

It is not difficult to see the degree to which the seasonal narrative of the entire southern half of our planet is ignored in the flow of the Christian liturgical calendar.

What follows are a few examples of how a community might reverse this liturgical exclusion by crafting their worship around the southern hemisphere's seasons.

During advent, focus on the abundant light in the south

Instead of longing for light to come in our local spot on the earth (see also: The Weaponized Binary of Light & Dark), a congregation might reflect on the abundant light that is blessing the southern hemisphere of our same planet. "We are never truly without light as the people of God," one might declare. "As winter settles in around us, we give thanks for the abundant light that brings forth spring with our neighbors to the south. May we be warmed by this same light as we welcome the Christ child into our lives this Christmas season."

During Lent and Easter, remember those whose seasons are opposite

In both a metaphorical and a literal sense, not everyone in the world - or in the room - may feel the light and energy of Christ's resurrection during the spring season. In fact, this is acknowledged in some of the existing prayer language in the ELW Easter liturgies.

It can be helpful to reference the half of the globe that is venturing toward their respective falls and winters, because it can ease the pressure for folks who may not feel as "sunny" or "Easter-y" as the predominant narrative of the season would convey. Thus, it is both inclusive and pastoral to reference the different seasonal narrative in the opposite hemisphere because it acknowledges the different reality that exists outside the assumptions of our European liturgies, and it reminds the community that we're never all-at-once shrouded in light, and that is ok.