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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring (Vernal) Equinox

Flowers and fiddleheads, seeds, eggs, fertility,
rebirth and strawberries, sprouts, stalks and salad greens.
These are a few of my favorite things…

The Sun was directly over the Equator at 7:44 am today, equal daylight and nightime. From now on, we get more and more light (it's reverse in the southern hemisphere, Autumn Equinox moving into winter). This day has been celebrated since recorded history as the beginning of a New Year by many cultures such as Persians, Native Americans, countries in Asia and in the Middle East. It is also a holiday for Zoroastrians. Many countries in the Middle East also celebrate Mother’s Day on this date.

When the western world employed the Julian calendar, years began on March 25. Festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated anytime from March 20 to the first day of April. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s moved New Year's Day to January 1. We see the remnants of this move in the names for the months: April the 2nd month, May the 3rd, June the 4th, July the 5th, August the 6th, SEPTember the 7th month, OCTober the 8th, NOVember the 9th, and DECIember the 10th. See the pattern? That makes January the 11th month and February the 12th… and that will bring us back to March as the first month of the year. When the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian, those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year's Day on the "wrong" date (end of March) were teased as "April fools."

Other theories around April Fools Day are:
• The timing of this day of pranks seems to be related to the arrival of spring, when nature "fools" mankind with fickle weather, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
• The Country Diary of Garden Lore, which chronicles the goings-on in an English garden, says that April Fools' Day "is thought to commemorate the fruitless mission of the rook (the European crow), who was sent out in search of land from Noah's flood-encircled ark."
• Others theorize it may have something to do with the Vernal Equinox (this relates to Native Americans).
• Some think to tie in with the Romans' end-of-winter celebration, Hilaria, and the end of the Celtic new year festival.

The UN has also declared March 20 as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and UNESCO’s World Poetry Day.

From a Celebrating Spring Website: In many traditions, this is the start of the new year. The Roman year began on the ides of March (15th). The astrological year begins on the equinox when the moon moves into the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries, the Ram. The Greek God Ares is equivalent to the Roman Mars for whom the month of March is named. Between the 12th century and 1752, March 25th was the day the year changed in England and Ireland. March 25, 1212 was the day after March 24, 1211.

Some folks celebrate the festival of Nawruz, the Persian New Year, which falls on the Spring Equinox. They fix a special dinner of seven food dishes that begin with ‘S.’ Since many don't know the Arabic names for food, they use English words and eat salad, salami, soup, squash, etc. The table is decorated with a mirror, a bowl of water with one freshly-picked green leaf floating in it, a candleabra containing a candle for every child in the house, a copy of the Koran (or other sacred text), rose water, sweets, fruit, a fish, yogurt and colored eggs.

We celebrated the New Year with drumming and dinner beginning at 4:30 pm with a special activity highlighting the season. Each person planted seeds (green salad or humming bird attraction plants) or bulbs (gladiolas this year). They also wrote out a wish, intention, or word(s) to consider for the season and buried it in the earth of the pot.

After drumming, we shared a dinner. I made Thai SPRING rolls, marinaded SPRING chicken, and rice. Folks also brought great compliments to our Spring Feast, including brussel sprouts (out with the Winter and in with the Spring), fresh green beans, apple cake, and lots and lots of strawberries (fresh, with lady fingers and cream, and in rhubarb pie). It was fantastic!

Here are some additional/repeat comments on New Year's Day from my Taino friend, Vanessainaru Metztli Pastrano:
Many countries celebrate New Years Day at different times of the calendar year. The definition of New Years is the custom of celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of another. It marks the closing and the start of a measurement of daily time.

A calender year for modern day time, in the western world, was first started by the Romans in 713 BC. However, they used a ten month rotation. The first official start date was moved to January 1 in 153 BC. Julius Caesar moved the calender to 12 full months in 53 BC. It was called the Julian Calendar

The custom of New Years is different to different nations and even religions. The Christan Liturgical or Ecclesiastical Calendar starts with Advent.

The Chinese New Year is also referred to as the Lunar New Year. It can start anywhere between January 21 and February 21. The Islamic New Year is based on 12 lunar months.

The Iranian New Year begins with the Vemal Equinox (spring). The Assyrian New Year begins on April 1. The Punjabi begins on April 13th. The Thai and Cambodian begin their New Years between April 13th and 15th. The Eastern Orthodox Church starts their Civil New Years on January 14th.

Lastly the Gregorian Calendar is our actual modern day Calendar that is commonly accepted.It was named after Pope Gregory the 13th. It was started in 1582. It used the initials of AD and CE. CE stands for Christan Era and AD stands for the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary.

In the modern Western World, it took quite sometime to get one particular start day of a Calendar year. It took from 1522 to 1752 for the date of January 1st to be recognized as the official date for the New Year.

There are many different customs with the start of the New Year. Many regard it as a Holy Day for different religions. However, in almost every country and nation, it is a day of celebration. People party and happily look at the exchange of years.

So which ever New year's day you celebrate… Bohio Atabei wishes you ALL the very best… Have a happy, Stay well.

By the way the oldest known measurement of a calender year is by the Mayans

Posted By Taino Women's Bohio de Atabex to Bohio Atabei, Caribbean Indigenous Women's Circle at 12/31/2009 09:55:00 AM