5 Ways to Welcome the Start of Spring
Ahhhh yes, the first day of spring! With it comes the promise of longer days, warmer weather, and (for many of us) an intense urge to freshen up the house with a good spring cleaning. This year, the spring equinox will take place in the Northern Hemisphere on Sunday, March 20th. It marks the turning point when daylight hours steadily begin to lengthen. It’s no wonder that springtime is associated with reawakening, renewal, and new beginnings! Be sure to mark your calendars and set aside some time to experience and celebrate the transition of the seasons.
What's the vernal equinox?
You may have heard the spring equinox referred to as the vernal equinox and yes, these terms are used interchangeably. Vernal means “fresh or new” and comes from the Latin word vernus, meaning, “of spring.” The word equinox is also of Latin origin, combining the words aequus (equal) with nox (night). Pop those words together and you’ve got “equal night” — where the hours of daylight are almost equal to those of darkness. Following the vernal equinox, days continue to grow longer as the sun migrates north.
The beginning of spring has been celebrated and honored around the world for centuries. Persians saw the vernal equinox as the start of their new year and celebrated with a spring festival commemorating new growth and fire. Iranians today still celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian new year on or around March 21st. Ancient Germanic cultures held a celebration for Ostara, the goddess of the spring, paying tribute to fertility and new beginnings. In the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, rituals were held at the Pyramid of Kukulkan, where a staircase was built at such a precise angle that a snake of sunlight appeared to slither down the stars as the equinox occurred. Shunbun no Hi is a Japanese public holiday on the spring equinox, where people pay homage to the dead and tend to the tombs of their loved ones. Here in the United States, native Lakota still honor the vernal equinox and our place among the stars with ceremonies such as the pipe ceremony, meant to rekindle the sacred fire of life on Earth.
Celebrate new beginnings
What better way to emerge from winter than with a spring celebration of your own? Here are five ways that you and your family can welcome the season of rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal.
1. Kick off your spring garden: Nothing says spring quite like seeing tiny green seedlings push their way out of the dirt. March is a fantastic time to begin sowing the seeds of a future garden. If you have a warm and sunny place in your home or garage, plant a few indoor starts that you can transplant later in the season. Depending on your location, consider growing tomatoes, peppers, herbs, or pollinator flowers. If you’re not sure which seeds to buy, visit your local nursery for advice. (And while you’re there, spend an extra minute or two walking through the rows of plants to really get into the spring of things!)
Want to get the whole family involved in gardening fun this year? Check out our tips for gardening with kids.
2. Enjoy a hike or go birdwatching: Getting out into nature is one of our favorite ways to experience the season of rebirth. The world begins to grow greener, and the sounds and sights of young wildlife start to appear. When you’re deciding which spring hike to check out, look for ones that mention wildflowers or blooming trees to make the most of the season. (And since rain loves to make a springtime appearance, it’s always a good idea to check trail conditions before you go and wear reliable, waterproof footwear.)
No matter where you live in the United States, spring is an exceptional time to give birding a go. Before you head out, pick up some binoculars and a birding guide for your area, and read up on how to get into birding. In addition to being witness to the magic of spring, you might even find that your time with the birds doubles as self care. KEEN fan Sierra Taliaferro sure thinks so!
3. Forage for spring mushrooms: As the earth begins to thaw, the damp warm dirt of spring begins to bloom with mushrooms. Foraging for mushrooms is an enjoyable spring activity that often results in a tasty reward. Varieties like the morel and the chanterelle are relatively plentiful in spring and fairly easy to identify. If you’re new to mushroom hunting, consider joining one of the affiliated clubs of the North American Mycological Association.
4. Take a seasonal class: From gathering natural dye materials to learning how to preserve the abundant foods of spring, participating in a seasonal class can enrich your connection with the season. Many community centers, colleges, and art spaces offer classes in things like basket weaving, botanical dyes, mineral watercolor painting, canning, and even wild food foraging!
5. Begin something new: Spring is a time when the earth is alive with renewal and rebirth. It’s the perfect opportunity to start a project or try something new. Longer days mean more time to take up that sewing project or learn how to kayak. Maybe you’d like to read more novels or start a meditative practice. Whatever you’ve been curious about, consider the arrival of the spring equinox the queue to get started!