Spring is here!

March ‘ 16 Newsletter

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”
– Pablo Neruda

FIRST DAY OF SPRING

This year the vernal equinox, otherwise known as “the first day of spring,” falls on March 20th. We get our word equinox from Latin words which mean “equal night.” On this day, the earth’s tilt, relative to the sun, is exactly zero. This means that the Earth’s axis is pointing neither toward nor away from the sun, and that the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west.

First day of SpringThe vernal equinox, traditionally, is a sign that Spring has come and is most often associated with renewal and new beginnings. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the vernal equinox plays an important role in determining when to celebrate Jewish Passover and the Christian holiday, Easter. Many Christian cultures decorate chicken eggs during this time. You might know them as “Easter eggs.” These eggs, in accordance with the season, represent rebirth and fertility.

Ancient Chinese cultures also brought out the eggs on the equinox. Like the Easter eggs, these eggs stood as a symbol of fertility. The tradition called for people to balance eggs on the day of the March equinox. Doing so, the people garnered good luck and prosperity. This custom eventually gave way to urban folklore. Many believe that the vernal equinox is the only day on which an egg can balance perfectly on its end. This, of course, is not the case. An egg can balance on its end, no matter what day it is.

Iranians don’t just celebrate the beginning of a new season but also the beginning of a new year. For 3000 years, Iran has used the vernal equinox to mark its New Year or No-Ruz, as they call it. Preparations for the holiday begin 12 days prior to the equinox—these preparations include buying new clothes and thoroughly tidying up the house. Wheat and lentils, representing new growth, are also grown in a flat dish, just a few days before the holiday. Meanwhile, Japanese cultures honor their ancestors on both the fall and spring equinoxes. The practice is called Higan and has been a national holiday in Japan since the mid-nineteenth century. Higan roughly translates to “other shore” and refers to the period in which spirits cross the river of existence and reach Nirvana, otherwise known as leaving the world of suffering for the world of enlightenment.

While these cultures celebrate the beginning of spring in very different ways, the ideas of rebirth and fertility often appear in all of them. Perhaps, this is because, in the Northern Hemisphere, our flowers begin to bloom, ladybugs land on our shoulders, and the familiar chirping of birds can once again be heard outside our windows. The dreariness of winter is shed for the warmth of spring, and it feels like life can thrive again. Or, in the words of E. E. Cummings, “Spring is like a perhaps hand … changing everything carefully.” Observe the world around you—specifically the plants and animals. In what ways do you notice spring is on its way? How will you celebrate?

SPRING CLEANING

With all the emphasis on rebirth during the spring season, it’s no wonder that it became a chance for family’s to get their house in order. With the early warm weather this year, you may have already received your spring chores.
Many trace the beginning of the practice to the Jewish tradition of thoroughly cleaning their homes before Passover. Passover commemorates the Israelites escape from captivity in Egypt and is followed by a seven day observance known as the “Days of the Unleavened Bread.” During this time, those of Jewish faith are not permitted to eat or drink anything that has been fermented with yeast and are instructed to remove even the smallest remnants of leavened food product from their home. Thus, a thorough “spring cleaning” became necessary to anyone who observed Passover to the letter.

spring cleaningThe Persian New Year, also known as Iranian No-Ruz, may also be the source of “spring cleaning.” While getting ready for the holiday, Iranians engage in the practice of khooneh tekouni which, literally, translates to “shaking the house.” Everything in the house, all the way from the curtains to the carpets to the furniture, is meticulously cleaned. The Persian New Year dates 3,000 years back and is rooted in Zoroastrian religious practices, though it has become widely celebrated by many diverse ethnic communities.

Whatever the origin, spring is always a good time for a fresh start. Pinnacle Prep students, now is a good time to do a little “spring cleaning” on ourselves so that we can finish the year strong and well.

 

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (Spring forward!)

This year Daylight Savings falls on Sunday, March 13th at 2:00A.M. Don’t forget to set your clock ahead one hour before going to bed that night!

Daylight SavingsThe idea was first proposed by a New Zealander named George Hudson in 1898 but was never implemented nation-wide until World War I. Germany was the first to use DST on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel for the war effort. The rest of Europe soon followed suit. The United Sates did not adopt the change until World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the practice, calling it, “war time.” DST, in America, has been debated ever since, and its role and implementation has undergone several changes since FDR first set it in motion. Defenders of the practice cite that DST reduces energy consumption by lessening the need for lighting and heating during certain periods, though this effect has been disputed over the decades.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Spring Break

March 14th – 18th: Spring Break!

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