Archive for March 19th, 2010

Spring Cleaning my Brain & Celebrating ReNewal

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Culture, Health, Musings, Philosophy |

My brain is really looking forward to its annual spring cleaning. It gets a bit stuffy over the wintertime, and then “stuff” happens. Er. Um. I mean, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way, but it does seem I enjoy taking advantage of a little “shaking up”.

I’ve posted before about the Gregorian calendar, which is the one most of the world uses for commerce, even if they have a different one for cultural or religious purposes. Did you know, though, that our year hasn’t always started at the beginning of January? That once, relatively long ago, it started in mid-March? In England, the civil year started on the 25th of March from the 12th century until 1751 (relatively recently as things go), and early Roman calendars had only ten months beginning with March:  Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. It’s interesting to note that the last four month-names have remained identical to present English usage, although they’re “out of synch”, as their names refer to the numbers 7, 8, 9, & 10, rather than to the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th months as we know them now. Apparently, January and February were added at a later time to balance out the solar year, and other month names were changed for various political reasons.

OK, so, leaving the Romans out of it for a bit, there is the ancient practice of honouring the new solar year at the time of the spring equinox. This is the day that the hours of daylight equal those of the night; from here the days get longer until the Summer Solstice (in the northern hemisphere; our friends in the southern are approaching winter, instead, but the solstice is there as well.) 

Given that, there are currently celebrations of renewal in progress in several cultures. Many of these have associations with fertility, some subtly, others blatant! Here are some I know of and acknowledge:

  • Chinese New Year. (February 14th) Earlier than the Solstice, and not quite spring; for me, this holiday marks the beginning of the spring holiday season. This year I celebrated by singing in the chorus of a Chinese New Year concert sponsored by the Chinese Cultural Center in my community.
  • Spring Equinox (Today, March 20) celebrated from ancient times as the turning of the year; the renewal of life. Spring cleaning starts now!
  • NawRuz (March 21) another equinox holiday; the Persian (Iranian) New Year. Also celebrated by people of the Baha’i faith.
  • Passover (Pesach) starts on March 29th (15th Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar). It’s an eight-day holiday starting with two feast days which celebrate freedom.
  • Easter (April 4) The name is as ancient as Babylon. A name for the Goddess of spring and time of renewal, Easter has come to be associated with the Christian celebration of the resurrection of the Christ spirit.

There are others, and forgive me if I’ve left out yours. Please note it in the comments if so. 🙂 As I’ve said, this is my favorite holiday time. I don’t, as many in my area do, give a lot of energy to the December holidays, although they can be beautiful. I enjoy, rather, the gradual warming of our days, and with them the fresh energy this brings.

I’m hoping my brain is not too cluttered this year. There is much that has happened since last spring, in the world and within me.

Whichever of them is important to you, I wish you good, cleansing spring holidays. Let’s stir things up and create some excitement! ☼

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