In my location, we are blessed with a growing season that lasts nearly year-round. The Winters here are typically mild, and we often do not experience a hard freeze for several Winters in a row, which means you can grow all kinds of plants in the Winter months with just a little careful planning. I’ve also noticed that this interesting climate has impacted my interpretation of some of the old festivals. I’ll use the example of Apollon’s return/departure from Delphi, since it is coming up later in the year, and because it is one of the most important to me, personally.
I’ve read that Apollon leaves Delphi for from as little to three months, to as much as six. Around here, Winter lasts about four months, so that pretty much takes celebrating His departure/return on the equinoxes, as is traditional, out of the running all together. (Besides, for me, the equinoxes are all about Demeter and Persephone, and Their myth cycle makes a lot more sense for celebration on those dates.) At the end of October, is when I get all the Winter goodbyes from my Lord.
I’ve been welcoming Dionysos into my home every Winter at Samhain for the last several years. (One day, I’ll think of new names for my personal festivals, but now I think actually celebrating them is more important.) So, from that point on, which covers all of November, December (at the end of which we have Yule, also known as Midwinter), January and most of February, is four months. I always get a very strong feeling of anticipation from Apollon a few weeks prior to His return on His birthday in February. This happens around the time of the Wiccan holiday of Imbolc, but more importantly, it is the time of Solar Spring, when the days first begin to lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere, and when I notice the first flowers beginning to bloom in South Texas.
So, I have a sort of preparation festival in His honor, which mostly consists of purification and decorating the house for His return. For me, Apollon’s return is more of a weeks long event, culminating with His appearance at the final ritual. It is probably my favorite festival and time of year, hands down, and it is completely personalized, tailored to suit my location and climate. There are other festivals which I’ve had to tweak for them to fit into my local framework. Such as Thargelia. I can’t celebrate Thargelia in April, because there isn’t any fruit growing here yet. However, only a month later, in May, I’ll have many different fruits to offer.
So, while I believe it to be vitally important that we learn about what the ancients did, and how they celebrated, I think it is perfectly acceptable to find ways of celebration that suit us, today. Our localities should be respected, and our climates considered when we craft our practices. Even though many of us may be solitary, none of us are islands. We each share our experiences with the Land upon which we live.