The birds are singing, the days are longer, there’s that wonderful feeling of potential in the air – it’s time to celebrate! Spring Equinox is one of the four solar festivals – summer and winter solstice and spring and autumn equinox, marking the turning points of the year. The Celtic goddess Eostre was traditionally connected with the dawn, just as spring equinox marks the dawning of the light. Day and night are equal – in a state of perfect balance – in both hemispheres. But in the northern hemisphere, the scales are about to tip over on to the side of light. Nature is coming alive after her long winter’s sleep, as the power of the sun increases.
The banks are full of spring flowers, trees are bursting with buds, and seeds begin to germinate. We start to feel this in our own lives and bodies. We want to be outside more, enjoying sunshine on our skin. We feel our confidence building, and the desire to put our dreams and desires into action flows naturally. We start connecting and reaching out to others, enjoying a shared feeling of potential.
There are many festivals that celebrate this magical time of year – from the Christian festival of Easter to the Persian New Year, Nowruz. Traditional rites and games abound, so there’s plenty of ways to bring a bit of the magic into your homes and hearts.
• Get outside for a walk and picnic. This is the time to run wild like the March Hare! Gather together a group of friends to celebrate the first signs of spring. You could even nurture Mother Earth by organising a litter-pick. Then settle down on a grassy knoll somewhere to enjoy a delicious picnic of joyful spring food: green leaves, devilled eggs, seeds/grains like couscous or quinoa, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
• Balance eggs! Apparently, raw eggs balance on end only twice a year, during the spring and the autumn equinoxes. Recently it has been discovered that, with a hefty dose of patience, you can actually balance them any day of the year. But why not hold an egg-balancing contest to see how much easier it is on the equinox?
• Create a spring nature table. The colours that represent this time of year are green and yellow. Why not bring spring into your home by making a special nature table indoors. Cover the table with green and yellow cloth, then go out together to gather signs of spring, from catkins to broken birds’ eggs, spring flowers to rabbit fur or lamb’s wool (you can usually find rabbit fur in places where lots of rabbits congregate and lamb’s wool snagged on fences). Place green or yellow candles or wrap a plain candle with a piece of coloured ribbon. This sacred space provides a great way for all the family to connect with the turning of the wheel of the year.
• Meditate. At your special spring altar or somewhere outside that connects you deeply with nature, meditate on the potential of spring. What do you want to achieve this year? What can you do to make your dreams come true? How can you help and support your community and the earth this year? Every little action has an impact, so start with something that makes your heart sing.
• Have a feast! Why not celebrate the ancient feast of Nowruz, first celebrated by what may be the oldest religion, Zoroastrianism. Spring Equinox, when day balances night, is a new year’s celebration for many people in Iran and across western Asia. Seek out some delicious Persian recipes, from herbed and spiced rice and smoked fish to the tantalising sweet, baklava. A few hours prior to the beginning of the New Year, Iranians spread a table setting called Haft Seen. Seven things which begin with the Persian letter “Seen” or the English “S” are placed on the table, including “Samanu” which is a sweet pudding made from wheat germ and characterizes cheerfulness, rejuvenation and affluence, “Sib” or apple which symbolizes rebirth, health and well-being, “Sekkeh” or coins which represent wealth and richness, “Sonbol” or the fragrant hyacinth flower which announces the beginning of the new year and “Somaq” or sumac which stands for sunrise and power. Create your own Haft Seen with treasured objects which symbolise something to your family.
• Plant seeds. Is there something you’d like more of in your life this year? Choose the flower or plant that you feel best represents this desire – sunflowers for joy, lavender for relaxation etc. – and bless your seeds with your wish before planting them. Get the whole family involved with their special wishes. As the plants grow throughout the year, you can check in with your family’s progress.
• Decorate eggs. This age-old tradition is fun for all the family. Boil the eggs first and then have a go at making natural vegetable dyes:
HOW TO MAKE VEGETABLE DYES
Yellow – add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass bowl (plastic will stain) filled with enough water to cover egg and leave egg to soak for one/two hours.
Red/pink – use the juice from cooked beetroot topped up with water and leave egg to soak for one/two hours, depending on colour you’d like.
Orange – peel several onions and bring the skins to the boil in water. Leave to cool and then add eggs, soaking for one/two hours depending on desired end colour.
Blue – use water from boiled red cabbage to soak your egg for one/two hours for a beautiful blue hue. To seal your colours, you might like to add some vinegar to the dye water. Try making dye from berries and carrot tops and whatever else takes your fancy – get experimenting!
For older kids, you could have a go at pysanky, the traditional Ukrainian craft of layering eggs with colour and pattern using wax. If you choose to blow the eggs first, you can add them to your nature table. If you boiled them, why not enjoy a bit of egg rolling in the garden before feasting on them?
However you choose to celebrate this special date, make sure you get outside and fill your lungs with some sweet spring air – enjoy!