Spring is in the air!
The first day of Spring begins on Wednesday March 20th.
March is the third month of the year. It was originally the first month. The ancient Roman calendar had only ten months and the new year started the year on 1 March. The word 'March' comes from the Roman 'Martius' its name honours Mars, the Roman God of war. The Anglo-Saxons called this month 'Hlyd monath' which means Stormy month. We often hear the saying 'March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.'
"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."
The March Moon is known as the Chaste Moon, it is also known as the Lenten, Seed, Sap, Worm and Hare Moon too, and marks the celebration of Spring. It is the observance of the return of the Goddess in all her glory. At this time of the year we prepare for planting the fields and gardens, blessing the seeds for the crops in the hope that the year’s harvest will be plentiful.
We celebrate Mothering Sunday here in England on the 10th of March.
Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother's Day, has been celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, in the UK since the 16th century. Mothering Sunday was a celebration of Laetare Sunday in the Christian liturgical calendar.
It was the one day when, instead of going to their local parish or ‘daughter' church, people went ‘mothering'— visiting the principal church, or ‘mother' church, in the area. Often, this was a cathedral. In later times, many of the England's children left their homes for jobs as maids and servants. As most jobs were located far from their homes, they would have to live at the houses of their employers. Accordingly, once in a year, in the middle of the Lent the children were given leave by their employers to go home and visit the family. Often the housekeeper or cook would allow the maids to bake a Simnel cake to take home to their mother. As the children walked home along the country lanes, they would pick wild flowers to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift. The return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions.
As Mothering Sunday always falls in Spring, the giving of spring flowers as gifts to mothers is a tradition. Many churches give the children in the congregation a little bunch of flowers to give to their Mothers as a thank you for all their care and love throughout the year. I remember as a child being given a little bunch daffodils at the Church to give to my mother.
Today, Mothering Sunday in the UK is often called 'Mother's Day' its origin is different from the American festival of that name. Over the years the customs connected with Mothering Sunday have changed and today the sentiments in both countries are similar. In the United States and Canada, Mother’s Day is observed on the second Sunday in May.
Has come to town
With a yellow petticoat
And a pretty green gown."
The Daffodil, is March's celebrated flower, otherwise known as Narcissus or Jonquils - which is the Spanish name for this flower. Daffodils are also known as Lent Lilies because they start blooming as the season of Lent begins. The daffodil is also known affectionately as the Daffy-down-dilly or daffodilly.
Daffodils flourish among the first spring buds. Because of its hardiness, beauty, fragrance, and early spring blooming, daffodils are favoured by many gardeners. Daffodils re-appear faithfully every year, and not just in the garden but in places such as churchyards, parks and along the roadsides, where they have been planted.
Despite the large amount of variation, all daffodils have the same basic shape a 'trumpet' or corona and a ring of petals surrounding it called the perianth.
Daffodils are quick to naturalize and deter animal pests from more scrumptious flower bed or garden delicacies. Bulbs and leaves produce toxic crystals that rodents and deer don't like. Do be careful though when planting them if you have pets; as daffodils could make them very sick if they ate them. In fact, this poison will also wilt other flowers placed in display alongside daffodils.
* Daffodils can be harmful to other cut flowers. So its best not to mix daffodils with other flowers, unless the daffodils have been in water for 24 hours and the water changed first. Even Searing is not effective in halting the seepage secretion from daffodils. Therefore daffodils should not really be mixed with other flowers if you want a long-lasting arrangement.
The daffodil inspired William Wordsworth to write his famous poem 'Daffodils.'
" I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze....
This month we also celebrate Easter. The Easter festival is the oldest and most important festival in the Christian calendar. It is the culmination of events during Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday reflects the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Christ, and Good Friday remembers the crucifixion of Jesus. Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection after his death.
Easter Sunday (March 31st) is traditionally a family time when families get together to celebrate and enjoy a meal together. This is quite often a 'Sunday Roast' dinner.
Easter is the celebration of new life. We celebrate the earth’s new year of growth, after the cold, dark days of winter. Easter has its beginnings in ancient Christian holidays, pagan celebrations, and spring festivals. Long before the celebration of Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, people celebrated a spring festival. Spring was celebrated by giving thanks to the ancient goddess of fertility 'Eostre'—from which 'Easter' derived its name. Eostre was known in Germanic lands as Ostara. Eostre is a goddess of the dawn and the spring.
Many of the traditions associated with Easter have direct links with Paganism.
The Easter bunny however may have actually been a hare. It is believed that a symbol of the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre was the hare. It was Eostre's sacred animal since it was a symbol of fertility and the rebirth of nature following winter. You can read lots more about the Hare, here.
Easter eggs are a very old tradition going to a time before Christianity. The Easter Egg has been given at Easter as a symbol of new life and fertility for centuries. In the UK and Europe early Easter eggs took the form of duck, hen or goose eggs. The eggs were hard-boiled and dyed in various colours and patterns. The traditionally bright colours represented spring and light.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, 'plush' and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.
Exchanging and eating Easter eggs is a popular custom in many countries. Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery.
Egg Hunts became an increasingly popular children’s activity through the centuries. Forbidden to consume eggs during Lent according to Roman Catholic dietary laws, it was a special treat to collect and eat eggs. Easter eggs are hidden in various places for children to find. This game is similar to the treasure hunt.
From the Easter egg hunt tradition grew a number of children’s games, including Egg Rolling. The point of an Easter Egg Roll is to see who can roll an egg the greatest distance or can make the roll without breaking it, usually down a grassy hillside or slope. The tradition of egg rolling on Easter Monday dates back to Anglo-Saxon Germany. It's believed that for the early pagans the activity was seen as a way of bringing new life to the land at springtime. For early Christians, meanwhile, egg rolling could have been a representation of the stone being rolled away from Jesus' tomb.
Easter Bonnets go further back in time than Easter itself. The very first bonnets, usually a circle of leaves and flowers, symbolized the cycle of the seasons and the coming of Spring. The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates new life and rebirth was celebrated by donning pure and new clothing.
There are many flowers associated with Easter because Easter is generally a Spring Festival. Lots of churches around the world hold flower festivals at Easter and the whole church is filled with displays of Spring flowers.
Spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, lilies and tulips have become a symbol of the Resurrection throughout the Christian world. The lilies beautiful trumpet-shaped blossoms symbolize purity, hope, and life. Daffodils symbolize rebirth and eternal life which is relevant to the Christian meaning of Easter. The tulip adds beautiful decor to Easter celebrations and also symbolizes the rebirth of spring.
Pussy Willows has been loved by generations of children, and is often associated with Easter. The Pussy Willows are especially picked at Easter in England and Russia. In parts of the world where palms are rare, pussy willows are the branches brought to church on Palm Sunday. On this day pussy willow branches are blessed in the church. The people tap one another with these branches, for good luck, repeating the wish ~ "Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water, and as rich as the earth. "
It wouldn't be Easter without a batch of spiced hot cross buns, they are a wonderful treat. The special fruit cake, known as Simnel cake, is associated with both Mothering Sunday and Easter, and is steeped in traditional symbolism.