The equinox marks the time when the days and nights are relatively equal around the world, and in the northern hemisphere, it traditional denotes the first day of spring. Though today does not feel so much like it. But the sky is blue, the trees are budding, and when I walked the dogs this morning I was treated to a very very close cry of a hawk.
Traditional springtime activities include cleaning the house (something that I find oddly appealing), giving away old clothes and furniture, decorating eggs and planting seeds. Years ago, when my children were young, we dyed eggs using carrot juice, beets and onion skins. These natural dyes produce very pale colors, which my kids were not that into at the time – they wanted the dayglo PAAS kits – but now that they are older they appreciate the process and the natural color results.
I am fascinated by other springtime traditions, and especially interested in the way that Christians pick their Easter Sunday date. The Easter date depends on the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox. In 325CE the Council of Nicaea decided that the Easter date would be the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March equinox. Easter is therefore delayed one week if the full moon is on Sunday, which lessens the likelihood of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover.
Yesterday a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook about photographer Charles Fréger. This is an excerpt from the New York Times article by James Estrin:
“Charles Fréger was fascinated by what the human race lost over the millenniums when it evolved from hunter-gather to farmer and, eventually, urban dweller. After learning that there were Europeans who continued ancient pagan rites of celebrating the winter solstice and the beginning of spring, he set out to examine what traditions faded as people became more civilized.”
Photograph by Charles Fréger, taken in France where Spring festivals in the Pyrenees feature local men playing the role of bears awakening from hibernation.
Originally posted in 2013