Happy Spring Equinox

Monday, March 20, 2006

This time of equality between day and night has been, and continues to be, a timekeeper, marking our passage from darkness and cold to warmth and light.

In many traditions, this is the start of the new year. The Roman year began on March 15th. The astrological year begins on the equinox when the moon moves into the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries, the Ram. The Greek God Ares is equivalent to the Roman Mars for whom the month of March is named. Between the 12th century and 1752, March 25th was the day the year changed in England and Ireland.

While the Vernal Equinox was an important point of passage in the year, the actual method of marking the festival varied from village to village and people to people. Rituals for abundance in the new crops being planted would often be held during the new moon closest to the Equinox (traditionally a good time to plant). In some places this was also the time when promises were made between lovers for the Handfasting Ceremony that would come at Midsummer. In a very real sense the ceremony was an expression of hope and trust in the new lives that would blossom in the warmth of summer.

Even the latter day celebration (comparatively speaking) of Easter acknowledged the significance of the Vernal Equinox. The Council of Nice decreed in 325 A.D. that "Easter was to fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox."

As Christianity spread across Europe and Britain, these older symbols became incorporated into the new faith's holiday of Easter; even the name seems to have been a variant of the Goddess whose festival was originally celebrated with the arrival of spring. The old rites honoring the planting of new seeds, the fertility of the land and its people, and the hope of the new life arising in the world were replaced by solemn displays commemorating Christ and Christian beliefs.

1 comment

gay said...

Nice post: good history. That same Council of Nicea in 325 also adopted the doctrine of the Trinity into Christianity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Interestingly enough, the Holy Ghost won by just one vote!

Cheers!
Granny, the Trivia Queen

Newer Older