spring around the world
It’s April 1st! The flowers are growing, the trees are in various stages of bud, and the clock has flipped forward so we can have more hours of daylight — to work and play. For those shut indoors, we come out early enough to bask in some Vitamin D loaded sunshine.
But spring is a travelling and variable season, traditionally heralding the beginning of the year all over the world. Now that we measure the year by dates instead of flowers and harvests and moons…. when exactly is the first day of spring?
We’ve written before about the Chinese luni-solar calendar with its 24 seasonal terms. China’s first day of spring is earlier than in the West — it’s called Lìchūn and it occurs February 3 to 5. People eat favorite finger food like spring rolls or stuffed pastries to celebrate.
Japan’s seasonal calendar is based on China’s — although further subdivided into 72 parts. The first day of spring, named Risshun after the Chinese Lìchūn, is actually celebrated the day before with the Bean Throwing Festival Setsubun. Japanese throw beans out the front door and call “Demons out! Fortune in!” before slamming the door shut — to cleanse the house of bad luck and purify it for the coming of spring.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are switched around, with the first day of spring coming closer to the end of the year. Australia celebrates the beginning of spring in September. Its biggest festival is Floriade, a month-long flower festival in the city of Canberra.
In New Zealand the official first day of spring is September 1, but the Maori celebrate the arrival of spring (kōanga, or “digging season”) when the yellow kōwhai blooms appear.
Here in the UK there are two official first days of spring. March 1 is the “meteorological” or official first day of spring, according to the Gregorian calendar.
But the astronomical first day of spring is actually on the vernal equinox — March 20 this year. The biggest celebration is Ostara, the pagan celebration of the spring equinox that was adapted by Christians into Easter. At this time of the year the ancient site of Stonehenge lifts its fences and worshipers are allowed close to the stones to watch the sun rise between them.
The different cultures and traditions help to remind us that we all live on the same planet — looking forward every year to the arrival of the same sun. We’re so grateful for this reminder to celebrate together!
Originally published at https://wonderwanderwomen.blogspot.com.