Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Life is what you make of it. Oh, we've heard that before, but it is so true. As our family has grown and developed, it has been special to create memories and traditions. Some days pass by without celebrations or memories because of being focused on the here and now or being just plain, old tired. But when I take the time to do something or make something, the kids are noticing. There are many things that I do that are new to me, traditions that I never had in my life before, and somehow they are becoming traditions in our family. Like making Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. As our days have lengthened and we move through Lent, Pieter keeps asking about making them. He remembers and knows that this tasty treat is coming soon. 

My cousin Emily sent me some ideas for celebrating the Spring Equinox. We so enjoyed celebrating the Winter Solstice with her family in December that I decided we definitely need to have more active family celebrations that are thoughtful and special (here is a great list of reasons to celebrate). I spent some time looking for more ideas and found that celebrating the lengthening days of the sun is a center point of many spring celebrations, as well as the rebirth and renewal that is happening in the natural world. These celebrations of the Equinoxes and Solstices, that happened over so many centuries, were incorporated into many of our present day Christian celebrations. It seems to me that we are missing out by combining these, rather than celebrating them independently. How fun is it to celebrate the Spring Equinox, the rebirth of our world, with bunnies, chicks, and flowering bulbs and then to celebrate Easter in a few more weeks, with a sacred focus on the Risen Christ.  

Family traditions and celebrations grow and mature over the years. Rachel Probert says it just right: "I think the secret is to just plan something, anything, just to get out there and make the day memorable." While I may not have had something all set up, we talked about the Spring Equinox, that we had equal sunlight and darkness yesterday. And we celebrated the wonderful egg by eating egg crepes with sautéed asparagus for dinner. The day was beautiful, sunny, and 60 degrees. We found new tulip and daffodil bulbs coming up in the yard and found a few spring things for our table at the thrift store - a sweet spring linen with Bambi and Thumper embroidered on it and an egg candle. When we woke up this morning and saw more snow coming down, I declared that we would celebrate spring all weekend, no matter what the weather would be. Today we made spring cupcakes (red velvet cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting) using Papa's maple syrup and celebrated with them this afternoon.

Here are several ideas for celebrating the Spring Equinox as a family:
Light a candle at the dinner table. Each person should peel off the white shell, symbolizing the shedding of winter's hold on the land. Eat the egg white first, contemplating and being thankful for winter's role in our lives and in nature (a time of rest, hibernation and renewal). Hold up the egg yolk, symbolizing the sun and say:
The Sun is coming back,
And now that he is armed,
And now that he is strong,
He will chase away the cold,
He will bring us spring,
And summer is sure to follow.
Ceisiwr Serith

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world,
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see
our lips to praise
our hands to share
and may our feet tread lightly on the road.
For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For lengthening days
And sunlight's warmth upon the soil
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For a snowdrop's beauty
Reflecting its Creator's artistry
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
~John Birch

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