Hopping into Spring
Oh happy day! The Spring Equinox is next week. Every year Spring reminds me that there truly is an ebb and flow to life. A shift happens and we transition from a season where life is dormant and quiet, to a season when life awakens and nature stretches her limbs as she wakes from her slumber. Hope.
The newness of the blooming flowers and trees, the singing of the birds as they build their nests and the smell of freshly turned earth pulses with life. This transition causes many of us to fill with hope and inspiration.
On Sunday we experienced springing forward. How did you do? Take your time. Now, we are preparing for the Spring Equinox which happens next week and then Easter will follow in April.
Why is the Spring Equinox important?
The Spring Equinox marks the sun’s movement north across the celestial equator. For those of us north of the equator it means we begin to see longer days. The Spring Equinox is occurring earlier than usual this year. According to the Farmer’s Almanac website we haven’t had a Spring Equinox this early in 124 years. Here’s a link to the full article.
The Spring Equinox also serves as an important marker for determining many religious holidays and celebrations. For instance, the Jewish celebration of Passover is the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
For Christians, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon, on or after, the Spring Equinox. This is why the date changes every year.
Did you know in many Arab countries Mother’s day is marked by the Spring Equinox? I kind of like this idea. In a celebration of birth and all things life giving it makes sense to celebrate mothers.
Interestingly, I found that in neopaganism, the Spring Equinox is celebrated with a holiday called Ostara or Eostre, pronounced Eestra or Oostra. Say the words out loud. Did you hear a familiar word? I know! Me too. Easter. The Neopagan holiday celebrates life, new beginnings and our Earth mother.
Also, writings found from an 8th Century Monk note that April is known as Eostremonth because of a goddess the Anglo-Saxons honored in the Spring, marking new beginnings.
Colored eggs and Magical rabbits
Easter is a holiday when many people, Christian or not, leave baskets full of chocolate candy for children and watch as they hunt for hidden eggs left behind by a magic rabbit.
Have you ever been curious as to what the magic rabbit has to do with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus? Me! I have.
A few years ago, the Web of Life group who meets at the Fayetteville Universal Unitarian Church, hosted a class on the origins of Easter.
The group leader read aloud a children’s book, The Spring Equinox, by Ellen Jackson. I loved the illustrations and the way the author explained the history behind many Equinox traditions. My favorite story was the story of the hares and the eggs.
As you may or may not know, rabbits birth their young in nests they’ve constructed in the bushes. Hiding their nests in the bushes and brush gives natural protection for the female and her new bunnies from possible predators. Once the bunnies have grown and hopped away, abandoning the nest, a bird called a plover often takes over the nest, laying her own eggs.
It does make me giggle to think of how the local people must have felt finding eggs in what they knew was a rabbit’s nest.
Interesting tid bits about the Easter Bunny
- The Easter Bunny comes from 16th Century German folklore. Legend says if good little boys and girls make a nest in their bonnets and caps they would awaken to a reward of colored eggs.
- In the 18th Century many Germans began immigrating to the United States. Naturally with an influx of people comes an influx of new traditions and so the Easter Bunny was introduced to American boys and girls.
- Chocolate bunnies were produced in Germany during the 19th Century and it wasn’t until World War II and the rationing of the cocoa bean that bunnies became hollow.
- In the 1950’s the Easter Bunny was nicknamed Peter Cottontail with the release of Gene Autry’s song, Here Comes Peter Cottontail. This was a hit as it came on the heels of Autry’s Here Comes Santa Claus.
- In Australia the rabbit is a menace, as Australia was overrun with rabbits, in the 19th Century. They have since adopted the bilby, an endangered animal that resembles a rabbit, as their symbol of Easter.
Do you have a specific way of celebrating The Spring Equinox or Easter? Do you plant a tree every spring to celebrate the renewal of life?
However you celebrate Spring I hope growth, renewal and life for you and yours. I would like to challenge you to know and to make an effort to understand why you believe and celebrate the way you do. Perhaps you’ve been inspired to get creative and begin your own Spring time traditions for you and your family. As always, I’d love to hear.
Okay, now I’m off to do some spring cleaning. I hope I find some hidden forgotten goodies and not just cobwebs and dust bunnies.
Be you…be beautiful….be imperfect.