With the advent of Spring, sunlight finally overtakes the night
Snowdrops, anemone, crocus, muscari, some daffodil’s, tulips, and hyacinths are appearing, or will very soon.
The equinoxes are the only times when the solar terminator (the “edge” between night and day) is perpendicular to the equator. As a result, the northern and southern hemispheres are equally illuminated. The word comes from Latin equi or “equal” and nox meaning “night”.
From a secular standpoint, Easter’s main focus is the mysterious and magical egg, a symbol of birth and renewal from time immemorial. We dye them, hide them, eat them, exhibiting a kind of reverence that our pagan ancestors took quite seriously.
In Cantabrian Mythology, the Anjana, female fairies, gather on a Spring night in the fells and dance until dawn, holding hands and scattering roses. Anyone who manages to find a rose with purple, green, blue, or golden petals will be happy until the time of their death.
“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.”
In mid-Spring, the three-day Songkran Water festival marks the New Year in Thailand with a massive public water fight, meant to represent a cleansing of negative influences. Elephants splash water at the ancient city of Ayutthaya. The annual elephant Songkran is held to promote the tourism industry and is celebrated prior to the three-day Festival.
“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here”
Holi, the popular Festival of Colors, features revelers in India and other countries with large Hindu populations throwing colored powders and water at each other. Although the holiday enjoys widespread secular participation, it comes from Hindu myth
“Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches…”
William Carlos Williams
Nowruz, which means “The New Day” in Persian, marks the beginning of the New Year in Iran and typically falls near the vernal equinox in March, a time of hope and rebirth. Typically, a lot of cleaning is done, old broken items are repaired, homes are repainted, and fresh flowers are gathered and displayed indoors.
Nowruz’s origins are in the ancient religious ideas of Zoroastrianism, which stresses the complementary workings of good and evil and the interconnectedness of humanity and nature.
”Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,
hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
In Teotihuacan, thousands of people celebrate Easter, many dressed in white with a red scarf or other accessory. The defining ritual is to stand at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, with arms outstretched facing the sun in the morning on the eastern horizon. Chanting and other clamor accompanies this sunrise as participants stand with arms outstretched.
The Palace of Quetzalcoatl functioned as a solar observatory. Some of the figures depicted are owls, a bird associated with darkness as well as rays of light. The symbolism is that of balance between light and dark.
“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.”
The Navigium Isidis or Isidis Navigium was an annual ancient Roman religious festival in honor of the goddess Isis held on March 5th.
In the Roman Empire, it was still celebrated in Italy at least until the year 416. In Egypt, it was suppressed by Christian authorities in the 6th century.
Modern carnival resembles the festival of the Navigium Isidis, and some scholars argue that they share the same origin (via carrus navalis – meaning naval wagon, i.e. float – later becoming car-nival)
Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’