Springtime is an important celebration in the Northern hemisphere – the freezing weather is coming to an end, we can begin planting our gardens and crops, the days become longer and it appears we have survived the Winter! Not to mention the animals are preparing for an enthusiastic mating season.
All across the world and throughout time, humans have celebrated Spring in fantastically metaphorical and shockingly similar ways. We can adapt, pay homage to and gain inspiration from ancient traditions and bring them into our own lives to celebrate the turning of the wheel. We prepare our mind, spirit and energy, and celebrate the most active part of the year.
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Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival which became the Feast of Saint Brigid in the Catholic tradition. It was commonly celebrated with hearthfires (fires in the home or bonfires in the yard), celebratory foods, divinations and portents, as well as an abundance of candle blessings. The hearthfires and candles were commonly used in purification rites which accompanied ancient Spring cleaning! As within, so without!
Holi is an ancient holiday celebrated by Hindus in India, but also observed around the world. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil (a battle between two gods), the return of warm weather and our survival through the cold of Winter. It is celebrated by smearing and throwing decorative colored powders on friends, family and strangers alike, as well as the use of colored water in balloons and water pistols. Groups roam the streets with musical instruments while singing and dancing, and in the evenings there is feasting with family.
Fat Thursday, Shrovetide, Mardi Gras and Carnival all descended from a tradition of finishing off Winter food stores that were either running out or about to spoil. People ate their favorite dishes, paraded through the streets, dressed up in masks and celebrated fertility in a wide variety of ways. They let their hair down before moving into Lent, a time of fasting and restraint.
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Lupercalia is an ancient Greek celebration of Spring dedicated to the god Pan, and is where we get the name for the month of February. “Februa” were strips of skin removed from animals sacrificed to Pan in gratitude for the returning sun and warmth. Boys and young men would run through the city whipping other people playfully, and women being so struck were said to receive great fertility, with the extra promise of a safe pregnancy and delivery.
The major themes of these celebrations involve feasting on favorite foods, enjoying family, friends and lovers, as well as getting rid of the old and making room for the new. We’re preparing for the best possible year. We can still use the essential parts of these celebrations in our personal lives and in our own ways. Some suggestions include:
· Having a big family dinner, lunch, or outside picnic. Extra points for cooking over an open fire!
· Taking time to visit, call, or write your family, friends and acquaintances, especially those you’ve been out of touch with.
· Spring cleaning! But make it fun! Integrate aspects of Carnival and Holi by dousing family members in powdered colors or wearing fun masks and costumes, turning on some music, flinging open your doors and windows, and making it a party!
· Do some energetic spring cleaning too. Make a list of all the things you want to let go of, then burn it to let it go. Add festive and fun papers and pens to really lend this activity a celebratory feel!
· Go outside and enjoy the sunshine with fun, hunting-based activities, like an Easter egg hunt! You can do a Nature-based scavenger hunt or Bingo card and award prizes for the winners or other fun challenges. Alternatively, take your meditation, mindfulness, journaling or yoga practice outdoors.
· Take the time to bless your home. Particularly give thanks for the work candles, hearths and stoves did over the winter in providing you light and keeping you warm!
· Let’s not forget divination! We usually think of Tarot, mediumship, scrying, and the throwing of the bones, but you can also experiment with shufflemancy, bibliomancy, and tea leaf reading, which you undoubtedly have the supplies for!
However you choose to celebrate, if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, then congratulations! You’ve survived the winter and it’s time to thaw out and look forward to warm weather, creativity, productivity, sunshine and better days. If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, we wish you luck in your own looming Wintertime. As always, let’s make this the best year we can.
About the Author:
Nathara is a practicing witch and third generation psychic who was very lucky to have been taught by her mother starting at a very young age. She is endlessly delighted by he wonders of our world and the people in it and loves to share all that she has discovered about the world: science, art, nature, people, and cultures.