The sun crept northward over the equator 12:15 PM ET marking the beginning of Spring. You would never know it here in the northeast. Once again winter is hanging on another nor’easter hitting the region late tonight and tomorrow dumping up to a foot of snow. This is the fourth in the last four weeks. It still feels like the winter that just will not die in most of the country.
Most of us won’t notice it much but starting on Wednesday there is now more daylight than darkness and the warmer sun, despite the still cool temperatures, will bring early spring flowers, buds in the trees and help melt the still lingering mountains of dingy snow in parking lots.
Spring comes with lots of traditions, cultural, religious and mythical. The egg, a symbol of fertility is the subject of one of the biggest myths. The balancing of an uncooked egg derives from the notion that due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply. Actually, it can be done anytime of the year on a flat, level surface, a steady hand and no vibrations. It’s the same with that broom balancing, that works best with a new broom that has uniform, even bristles.
There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet.
There are lots celebrations in many countries and cultures including the internet. Google celebrated with one of its popular animated “doodles.”
In Iran, ancient new year’s festival of Nowruz is celebrated:
According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people.
In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Spring equinox and the Jewish celebration of Passover starts on the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox.
Most Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox but the Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar so the actual date of Easter differs.
In Japan the Spring Equinox became an official holiday in 1948, Shunbun no hi.
We Pagans celebrate Ostara, one of the Eight Sabats of the Wheel, as a season of rebirth. The name is derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, and many symbols are associated with Ostara, including colored eggs and, what else? Rabbits:
In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.
As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our “ancient history, ” there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the “Old Religion” were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone’s gardens and beneath fences and other spots.
It is said, however, that those people who sought to seek out heathens and heretics would bribe children with coins or threats, and once those children uncovered eggs on someone’s property, that person was then accused of practicing the old ways. I have never read any historical account of this, so I cannot offer a source for this story (though I assume the person who first told me found it somewhere); when I find one, I will let you know!
I once stood an egg on the dining room table and left it there. One of my cats, Mom Cat, sat staring at it for quite some time. After several minutes, she very gently reached out with one paw and tapped it. It rolled off the table and smashed on the floor before I could reach it. As I cleaned up the mess, Mom Cat sat on the edge of the table watching, as if to say, “yes, gravity still works.”
March will have it’s second Full Moon on the 31st. When two full Moons occur in a single calendar month, the second is called a Blue Moon. Full Moon that occurred on the 1st is called the Worm Moon by Native Americans because as the ground begins to soften, worms begin moving through the it. A sure sign of Spring is the return of the Robin. It’s also called the Sap Moon signaling the start of sap flowing in the trees and the start of the annual tapping of maple trees.
If it ever gets warm enough to open the windows, you can smell the warm earth. If only winter would end like this:
So break out the new brooms, rakes, shovels; check out the local garden center for bedding plants and start unearthing last years Spring and Summer clothes; it’s Spring.