“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Carl Bard)
For hundreds of thousands of years, the arrival of Spring has been celebrated by many diverse cultures with a common theme of renewal and rebirth. Of course, we see it played out for us in nature, especially in the northern hemisphere where there is a very obvious, and often protracted, transition from winter to spring. (As I write this blog on March 10th, we are experiencing recurring snow flurries as winter insists on having the last word.)
Regardless of the spiritual or cultural origin, the emphasis on renewal inspires us to ‘make new again’ in many areas of our lives. Before the calendar we use today added two extra months to the year, the month of March was considered the beginning of the Roman new year. Many celebrations were made to mark this auspicious time of ‘letting go of the old to make way for the new’.
Even if you typically celebrate the ‘new year’ in January, the onset of Spring still carries with it our desire to let go of the old…hence, Spring Cleaning. Whether we’re cleaning out our living spaces, our bodies or our spirits (as is the case with the season of Lent), nature seems to want to help us out by providing the vigorous winds that blow away the detritus of the previous season.
The anticipated arrival of the first floral shoots pushing their way through the hard ground is always a welcome sight of this perennial renewal. This is also the time of year we begin to see the animals who spent most of their winter hibernating in the warmth of the underground. And with their return, some of these animals are quick to reproduce. The March Hare, more familiarly known as the Easter Bunny, is a symbol associated with Spring and fertility and earlier Goddesses such as Eostre, Astarte and Ostara.
The theme of death and resurrection of Gods is another prevalent myth at this time of the year that predates the story of Jesus with the death and resurrection of Osiris (Egyptian God), Attis and Mithras (Roman Gods) and Adonis (Greek God), to name a few. These myths are metaphors that can guide us through the journey of renewal and rebirth within the many cycles of life – cycles that include the birth, life and death not only of human beings (and all of Earth’s creatures) but also of “ways of being”.
As we mature emotionally and spiritually, we might begin to realize that in spite of the diversity of myths at this time of the year, we actually have more in common than not. Acknowledging what we share, while honouring the uniqueness of our cultural practices helps us to create a global community whose focus is on ‘we’ rather than ‘us/them’.
One way to acknowledge and celebrate what we share in diversity, is to consider the number of rituals and celebrations that take place around the world at this time of the year and the common themes they share (this is by no means an exhaustive list…that would literally take a book).
As you learn about and consider the wide variety of rituals and celebrations practiced by diverse cultures, you’ll begin to recognize some common threads that weave the tapestry of humanity together. And you’ll recognize that we truly are a planet upon which “worlds and cultures meet”.
For more information, check out this interesting article about Spring Equinox Celebrations Around the World.