Spring Equinox at Cabragh

There will be a celebration of the Spring Equinox at Cabragh Wetlands on Thursday 21st March at 8.00pm. All are welcome, and though entry is free there will be a raffle.

The Equinox marks the moment in the year when the day and night are of equal length, with the Sun crossing the plane of the equator – in effect returning to the northern hemisphere and bringing promise of warmer days ahead… which we will all welcome after this late blast of winter. At the Equinox the Sun is at its highest point directly over the equator, and the terminator line (the notional grey dividing line where, if you can imagine you are looking from space, you can see day becoming night) will be at right angles to the equator for one of just two times each year. Consequently the Sun rises due east and sets due west.

This is the Vernal or Spring Equinox. In Japan such an important day is given recognition as a full national Bank Holiday, Shunbun no Hi, when people are expected to visit their ancestors’ graves, commune with nature and recognise the importance of all living things. It is the time when cherry blossom starts to appear, and Japanese weather forecasters keep citizens updated on the progress of the blossom from first budding to full bloom. Our cherry blossom will not appear for a few more weeks, but take special note this year of its rare beauty and fragility, with petals barely lasting a week before they fade, dim and drop, shaken from their perch by the slightest breath of a spring breeze, drifting to the ground in a gentle snowshower of delicate whiteness.

On this first day of the new solar year, around the world people are driving out the spirits of winter, visiting their ancient sites where our ancestors aligned pyramids, temples and graves to where their sun would appear on 21st March. From pagan Celtic times the equinox was a celebration of fertility – perhaps the origin of our Easter Egg tradition. The Greek goddess Eostre and her German counterpart Ostara were goddesses of dawn – new awakening and new beginning, and it seems likely that Easter was adapted as the name of the central Christian celebration of the year because it linked in with the pagan beliefs and religious culture that preceded the arrival of Christianity.

What is certain that in the “uncivilized” world in which our forefathers lived, there was a far closer connection between humans and the real world of nature than exists today. People celebrated the survival of another winter and began the crucial annual task of planting crops and planning for the harvest that would get them through the next cycle of the seasons. As the greening of the Earth begins, so it is time to celebrate the fertility of tour precious world, tying it in to or personal and spiritual growth. In the age of supermarkets and shipping of food around the world, don’t forget that a healthy, verdant planet can only be maintained if we continue to respect and sustain that which our ancestors, in their relative ignorance and innocence, instinctively knew, understood and celebrated.


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