The equinox, the Romans, and pagan symbolism - Welcome to spring!

All change for spring! Now’s the time to pack up your jumpers and thick socks, sigh with relief, and dig out some lighter clothes to welcome the warmer weather in.

Ancient people valued spring even more than we do, the time of rebirth and renewal. We might live in heated houses with electric lighting these days but we still respond just as deeply to the changes in the light and temperature that herald summer. Here’s a dive into the ancient side of March.

Relax into the Spring equinox 2024

It’s the Spring Equinox on 19th March this year, exactly half way between the summer and winter solstices. It marks the beginning of spring, when the days finally start becoming longer than the nights. This time around the clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 31st March, the beginning of British Summer Time, and it’s well worth the mild jet-lag symptoms some of us get.

Blow your mind with the Worm Moon and moonbows

This month is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It’s when we see the Full Worm Moon, which is at its most mind-blowing and dramatic in the early morning of Monday March 25th. Weather-willing you’ll be able to see it on the Sunday night too, a spectacularly big and bright moon. Obviously it isn’t actually any bigger, it just looks bigger because it’s nearer to the earth’s horizon than usual, creating a powerful optical illusion because we can make an unconscious comparison between the moon and our planet.

For a real mind-blowing sight, hope for a little bit of rain. Then we might get a moonbow, the night sky’s magical alternative to a rainbow. How come it’s called the Worm Moon? In the 1760s Captain Jonathan Carver talked to First Nation North American tribes who told him this time of the year is when a certain kind of beetle larvae start emerging from the tree bark where they’ve been hiding over the winter.

Ramadan, the Ideas of March, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies

We’re already in Ramadan, which began at sundown on 10th March and kicks off an entire holy month for Islamic people. It marks the 9th month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting, beginning and ending with the appearance of the crescent moon. They’ll be fasting between sunrise and sun set until Ramadan ends.

If you’re superstitious you’ll want to stay in bed on the Ides of March on 15th, an ill-fated day mentioned by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar and the day Caesar was murdered. At the end of March there’s Easter, a Christian celebration overtaking a much older pagan festival called Ostara, which marked the spring equinox. Ostara takes place on or around the 21st of the month but Easter happens according to the lunar cycles of the Jewish calendar. Because the lunar month is 29.5 days long, Easter’s date shifts between late March and mid April.

Easter’s symbolism is all over the place. As well as the Christian side we have eggs, rabbits, chicks and spring flowers. Eggs were traditionally forbidden by Christians during the week leading up to Easter, leaving people with too many eggs at the end of the week. So they saved them to give to children as presents at Easter itself. The Victorians dreamed up the eggs we know to this day, presented in fancy wrapping and made from chocolate.

The Easter Bunny and spring flower symbolism also have deep pagan roots. Rabbits have huge litters of babies called kittens, which symbolise new life in the same way baby chickens and flowers do. In 1700s Germany children built cosy bunny nests and left carrots out for the Osterhase, the Easter bunny.

Colour your life for spring 2024

Feeling like a change? Check out our fabulous alternative clothing to welcome in the spring.

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