Spring officially starts today in many countries in the northern hemisphere. I’m looking at a low of 17 degrees on Wednesday night. That doesn’t seem very springy. In fact, I don’t start feeling like going outside until roughly June 8. Give or take a few days and degrees. This made me wonder, just who gets to decide when spring starts?
Today is the vernal equinox. That means the sun passes directly over the equator. At some point in history somebody decided that we might as well go ahead and call the vernal equinox, “THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING.” Who made this decision? Well, it appears that the early pagans had something to do with it. Those nutty pagans. They were really into astronomy. I guess that no one else had a problem with this decision throughout history. Everyone was too busy shivering to argue about it. Until meteorologists came along. Meteorologists just had to be special. So, they decided that they would have their own spring start date. For them, the first day of spring is the day after the coldest 90 days of the year. I bet you didn’t know that, huh. You didn’t know that because nobody pays attention to meteorologists. How can we trust them with determining the start of a whole season if we can’t trust them with snowfall totals? Some other groups of people also decided not to play along with the pagans. For instance, the Swedish meteorologists consider the first day of spring to be when they have had one week of temperatures above zero degrees. In Ireland, February 1 is considered the start of spring. I think they’re just being belligerent.
No matter what specific date marks the start of spring for you, most everyone around the world views it as an event to be celebrated. The Poles make a doll that represents winter, andddddddddd, then they drown it in a river. In Switzerland they take a snowman, annnnnddddddd, they burn it at the stake. In Puerto Rico, people put on flip flops and roast a pig. (They do this pretty much every Monday, though, so I’m not sure they’re actually celebrating anything.) In Bosnia they have a scrambled egg festival. I have to cut in right there and tell you that this is my personal favorite spring festival. In the Netherlands they have a huge flower parade. The Japanese visit the graves of their ancestors and have family get togethers. The Water Festival in Thailand, Holi in India, The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll in England. There are many others. What seems pretty clear to me, is that winter is loathed around the world. It so happens that this year the first day of spring coincides with World Storytelling Day. Here at longwalkabout.com I’m celebrating both.