The Spring Equinox is with us once again in the Northern hemisphere (Autumn of course in the Southern), and it’s officially the start of Spring. Day and night are almost the same length now, and certainly, although it’s still cold and there’s not too much sun around, the lengthening days are beginning to make a difference. The daffodils and primroses are out (though in truth they’ve been out for a while, so odd has been our winter this year), and everything is beginning to sprout. We recently saw new-born lambs in the Dales, there’s frog spawn in our pond, and the first migratory birds will soon be arriving, while those that never went away, like my friend the robin, are singing louder than in the winter months..
Spring is traditionally seen in many cultures as a time of awakening, rebirth and celebration. Whether in Ancient Egypt, where the Festival of Isis was a celebration of spring and rebirth, or the Dionysian celebrations in Ancient Greece, or the Mexicans celebrating the Return of the Sun Serpent at Chichen Itza, around the world there have been, and continue to be, many springtime festivals.
In Central Asia the festival of Nowruz is the beginning of the New Year, and celebrated as a time of hope and rebirth.
In Sicily women plant seeds of grains, fennel, lentils, lettuces, or flowers in baskets and pots. When they sprout, they are tied with red ribbons and placed on graves on Good Friday to symbolize the triumph of life over death.
In Japan the Spring Equinox is known as Shunbun no Hi and it is a time for respecting the ancestors, visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.
In India Hindus celebrate the festival of Holi by throwing coloured powders over each other, celebrating the vibrant colours of spring and marking the victory of good over evil.
At Stonehenge the sun’s unique position in the sky is celebrated by Druids, Pagans, and Wiccans, who gather to watch the sunrise.
Eggs feature large in many spring festivals, including of course Easter, which is now only a week away.
As a gardener I can’t wait to spend more time in the garden. As the soil begins to warm up, it’s time for sowing seeds and planting. There is much to be done in terms of preparation, whether it’s cutting back of dead growth and pruning, or working the soil to a fine tilth, and fertilizing with organic compost. As in life, nothing comes to fruition without proper preparation and care.
The extraordinariness of spring is epitomized for me in the miracle of the bulb. With its flower curled up inside when planted in the autumn, with everything it needs for its growth, it delights us as it transforms itself into the perfect spring bloom.
When the sun does shine it’s such a joy to be outside in the fresh air again after the cold and wet has confined us indoors. We feel connected to nature as all around us life stirs. We feel a sense of hope and optimism. Definitely time to celebrate!