I write this on the first official day of ‘Spring’ or the ‘Spring equinox’; 20th March – a celebration for many of new life, of rebirth and of renewal.
Scientifically this is the time of the year that our beautiful Earth tilts towards the ever-present sun and we get longer, warmer days as more light falls on our side of the planet.
Equinox derives from the Latin words ‘Aequus’ meaning ‘Equal’ and ‘Nox’ meaning ‘Night’ together meaning ‘Equal Night’. This describes the turning point our Earth hits in its orbit resulting in the day and the night being roughly the same length. So, from now until June 21st when the Earth hits the Autumn Equinox we have longer, warmer days and shorter, lighter nights to look forward to.
Cultures and traditions from all over the world mark the Equinox by holding holidays, celebrations, and festivals. Being the time of year that our wonderful natural world springs to life again, it is an obvious time for all to celebrate life, hope and joy.
At this time of the year Pagans, past and present, celebrate ‘Ostara’ – named after the Germanic Goddess, the maiden Goddess of growth and rebirth. Her symbols were Rabbits and painted eggs, traditionally people would dress up in new clothes, dance around fires and decorate eggs as offerings to this fertile Goddess. Much of the story of Ostara is lost but her name lives on as it is the root of the English word ‘Easter’ and you can see her in our Easter traditions of today in bunnies and eggs.
Some of the Worlds ancient monuments have been built as astrological calendars, mapping the movement of the sun throughout the year. Some people choose to visit these places as a way of celebrating the Spring. In this country at Stonehenge in Wiltshire the sun can be seen rising exactly between two stones on the Equinox.
In Irish culture the 17th of March is celebrated as St Patricks Day. It is custom to wear a jolly green Shamrock on this day. If we look back at Druidry we will see that the Shamrock was the symbolic plant of the Spring Equinox thought to hold the regenerative powers of nature within.
My favourite celebration has to be the planting of seeds in Italy. Celebrated in ancient Italy as a time that herald’s renewal and growth, women planted seeds in the Garden of Adonis on this day. Today women in Italy still plant seeds of grains in pots and baskets and when sprouts appear ribbon is tied onto them and they are placed on graves on Good Friday to celebrate life over death.
I asked my 7-year-old son, Elliot, what Spring means to him. His wise words were that it was the countdown to Easter, chocolate eggs obviously being very important! But he also told me about the birds he has noticed, the male and female Robins busy gathering nesting materials, the Jay’s he has seen visiting our feeding stations at home, and the Pigeon that has a nest near his school. Birds are obviously a great indicator of Spring!
At Thorp Perrow, Spring comes to us every year with the delight of bird song, bud burst and new life. Colour and life seems to appear all around us as if by magic.
I like to use natures calendar, I spend most of February and early March spotting the early signs of Spring. Every year is different and I take great delight in noticing the changes that occur. I like to spot the tiniest bud bursting, that morning that the birds decide to start singing loudly again and the scents in the air that entice sleepy insects as early pollinators – nature tells me when Spring is here.
It’s a time when the Daffodils are blooming, Blossom is appearing and people tend to have a ‘spring’ in their step.
To celebrate Spring at Thorp Perrow we have our Daffodil trail up and running from now to Mid-April.
We have our much-loved children’s Easter trail running from the 1st of April until the 16th April, a must for the Easter holidays.
On Easter weekend, 15th and 16th of April, I will be running some children’s Easter crafts between 11am and 4pm, free of charge, standard entry applies. Various crafts for all ages will be on offer and I invite you to come and celebrate Spring with us and join me in the making of a giant bird’s nest!
Photo Credit – Thorp Perrow