This week marks the celebration of the vernal (spring) equinox and the astronomical beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. The actual equinox occurs Mar. 20 at 6:29 am EDT (10:29 UTC). At the same time in the southern hemisphere, it will be the autumnal equinox, and the beginning of the fall season.Many Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists celebrate the spring equinox as Ostara, Lady Day, Shubun-sai, or simply the coming of spring. Within their own varied and diverse traditions, they find ways to honor or recognize the warming days and renewed growth, as winter makes its slow departure.
In addition, Apr. 1 brings the celebration, so to speak, of April’s Fools Day, which reportedly has roots dating back to the 1500s in Europe. In 1957, the BBC published its famous spoof video documenting Switzerland’s early Spring spaghetti crop. The video reportedly garnered mixed reactions. If nothing else, the video demonstrates the levity that the season can bring.
While the exact roots of April Fool’s Day are unknown, there is some speculation that the tradition is tied to the spring equinox with the season’s changeable weather and unpredictable weather patterns. In addition the day has also been linked to the story of life’s journey found in the progression of the major arcana of traditional tarot. April corresponds to the first card, the Fool, which is considered the point of life’s beginnings.
Other early springtime festivals and holidays celebrated include Holi or the Hindu festival of color, Higan in Japan, the Naw-Rúz or New Year in the Baha’i faith, the Christian Easter, and Purim and then Passover in the Jewish tradition. There are many others both secular and religious.
The spring equinox also marks the beginning of the U.S. Pagan festival season with the opening of Equinox in the Oaks held in Florida. While much of the country is still shaking off winter and even experiencing snow, Florida’s early spring weather is ideal for an outdoor camping and ritual event. Equinox in the Oaks, now in its third year, launches the festival season, which then expands north across the country as temperatures rise and winter recedes completely.
Here are some quotes celebrating the seasonal holiday….
“However March manifests, it’s one of my favorite months of the year. The Earth feels like she is taking a long, languid stretch after the cold winter. Life begins to stir. It’s time to till the soil, to plant seeds, to make ready for the growing season.” – Susan Harper in Energizing Ostara!
“There’s no way to know how the ancient Anglo-Saxons would have felt about [Eostre], but to me she strongly retains the dawn goddess imagery. Crowned by the light of the rising sun, she ushers in the day. And what is spring but dawn writ large? As Pagans and Heathens, much of our concept of time runs in circles rather than in a straight line. Straddling the gap between day and night, summer and winter, Eostre is the goddess who turns the wheel from dark to light.” – Molly Khan in Eostre, Most Popular Goddess in the Pantheon.
“To start with, I need to remember that my relationships with the natural world are as important as my relationships with the spiritual beings who share it with me. Animism is one of the key foundations of the religion I practice. Everything has a spirit – or perhaps, is a spirit. Everything is properly understood as a person to whom we can relate, not as an object for us to exploit as we see fit.” – John Beckett in Reimagining Ostara
“With kids, employment, the house, and so much more, celebrations in my family need to be thought of well in advance if they are going to happen, […] There are several things I’ll do leading up to any of our holidays, reminding me on a daily basis of the turning Wheel of the Year, and the ongoing life we enjoy. For many of them (including Ostara), changes to the house décor (usually some decorations) and to the family altar presage a coming holiday. I also change my computer background to something related to the coming holiday as well – mostly because it is something I see often in my day to day life.” – Humanistic Paganism from The Spring Equinox Approaches
“A large part of the work at Druid College is teaching our apprentices how to re-weave the connection to the land each and every day. We cover a wide-range of topics in doing so, from conscious consumerism, political, and environmental activism, daily and seasonal ritual celebrations and more. Our focus from our last weekend was on daily connection, how we can bring everyday actions into our practice, to make the mundane sacred; indeed, to highlight the fact that there is no such thing as the mundane. It’s only in our perception.” – Joanna van der Hoeven in Re-weaving the Connection Every DayHowever you celebrate or honor this seasonal change, happy holidays to you from our family to yours!