The spring equinox takes place on the 21st March. The term is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night) and refers to the fact that there are equal hours of day and night within the period of a day. This is due to the Earth’s axis being tilted neither towards nor away from the sun, causing the centre of the sun to be on the same plan as the Earths equator.
Throughout the world celebrations take place to mark the equinox
Nowruz (from the Persian “now” meaning new and “ruz” meaning day and time) is the Persian New Year. Preparation for the celebrations begins before hand but culminate on the day of the equinox.
The sprouting of sabzeh seeds (lentils, wheat or barley) which are displayed during the festivities. Towards the end of the festival all worries are spoken to the young plants and then they are cast into flowing water taking away worries and troubles
Khane tekani is the cleaning and painting of houses in preparation for the festival
Shopping then takes place for the food and items required for the festivities. New clean banknotes are also obtained to give as gifts
Charshanbe Souri involves a large bonfire being lit early in the evening. All the members of the family then jump over the bonfire inviting it to give colour to their ‘winter’ complexions. Nuts and fruit are then eaten as part of the celebration which goes on late into the night. When the fire goes out the ashes are gathered and taken for burying in a field away from the house to symbolise the closing of winter. The person who has buried the ashes returns to the house an after a ceremony at the door they are allowed to pass into the house bringing in new life and warding away the evil eye.
At this time a large cloth is spread on the floor and the following things are placed upon it:
Lit candles representing goodness and warmth, symbolising the coming of spring. (Sometimes eggs are placed with them) The candles which are allowed to burn as it is seen as bad luck to blow them out
A copy of the Koran refreshing the bond with goodness and light
Seven food items which can include apples, garlic, sesame seeds, bread and vinegar. These are sometimes substituted for non food items such as coins, hyacinths, sprouts or seeds. They represent the regulation of the seven sins
Sa’at-i tahvil is the hour when the old year ends and the new one begins. This is the culmination of the celebrations. Canons are fired, visits made, gifts exchanged and food eaten.
For quite a few years I went to Belly Dancing classes and we always celebrated this festival as part of our class!
In the Jewish religious calendar the Passover occurs on the first full moon after the equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Christian churches calculate the date for Easter as the first Sunday on or after the March Equinox
For me the Equinox is a time of change. I definitely feel the shift towards spring and the feeling of lightness that comes with better weather and longer days. It is the time when I start to get busy in the greenhouse and garden planting and planning for the coming season
Why not try sprouting some grass seeds for the equinox, telling them your troubles and casting them away into running water?