The Spring Equinox
It’s almost the time of the Spring Equinox!
It varies according to where in the world you live, but here in the Yorkshire Dales it falls for 2023 on the 20th March. The old name for this event, when the darkness and light of day and night are perfectly balanced, was Ostara. Linguistically it’s a short step from this to the word we associate with Spring: Easter.
The year is reborn, longer days return to the Northern hemisphere and it’s not surprising that, for a long time, New Year’s Day followed the equinox closely, being celebrated on March 25th. Here in England this was New Year's Day right up to 1752.
And why is spring cleaning an annual ritual? Besoms, or brooms, were traditionally made from birch twigs and it’s the birch which sends out its fragile leaves as one of the first heralds of spring. At this time besoms were made and the debris of months of close confinement through winter were swept out of the house. The importance of the tree is reflected in a multitude of place names: a few miles from Masham lies Birk Gill, and it's the same root for so many Birkenhead and Berkhampstead.
It's a wonderful time to walk out daily and see the small changes which announce spring, and to feel yourself renewed along with the natural world.
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Josie Beszant and/or Ian Scott Massie, both artists from Masham North Yorkshire, Uk.