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By Well Seasoned, Mar 19 2019 01:59PM

When does spring start for you? I’ve been asking around recently and it’s clear that Spring means different things to different people.

Perhaps the earliest start date for the new season is Imbolc, the pagan celebration which falls exactly half way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. It has long been celebrated as a turning point in the calendar when the days start to get noticeably longer and with the emergence of snowdrops, the first sign of the end of winter.

Candlemas, on 2nd February is the Christiana equivalent of Imbolc, also marking a return of the light.

For meteorologists who, for convenience, divide the year into four very equal quarters, the date is the beginning of March.

Today (20th March) the vernal equinox will mark the point that the days are supposedly the same length as the nights in the northern hemisphere. Although, technically speaking, due to refraction of the light over the horizon, that day actually passed a few days ago, on a day known as the Equilux, around the 17th of March.

And finally, of course, there’s the moment on 31st March when the clocks will “Spring forward” and make the artificial, yet at the same time very real difference to the length of our evenings.

So there you have it – at least six different points when Spring "traditionally" starts. But, of course, those are all fairly arbitrary and essentially fixed points in the calendar. In truth, Mother Nature will decide when winter’s over and we each have our personal milestones that mark the real start of Spring.

For me, the renewed dawn chorus is a really important one and, being partly Welsh, the flowering of golden daffodils in the hedgerow is another. For others it's bluebells, the waft of wild garlic, Easter or the hawthorn blossom.

There’s undoubtedly some stormy weather still to come but there’s a real sense of relief and optimism that comes with the changing of this season. Whenever it starts for you, Happy (nearly?) Spring!


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