All Things Tarot: Musings of a Tarot Crone

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The First Day of Spring?

I have a question, one that has perplexed me for several years. 

Tomorrow is the first day of February, marking the festival of Imbolc. The days are lengthening, the night time grows shorter. We're halfway through winter. Or are we?

I know that 21st of December is supposed to be the first day of winter, but this makes absolutely no sense to me. If we look at the year as half of it where the nights are longer than the days and half of it when the days are longer than the nights, then surely, the date that the nights get shorter can't be the mid point? 

If we look at the old names for the winter and summer solstices, they're even called 'midwinter' and 'midsummer!' So, how can the middle of something—midwinter—be the first day of it?! I'm struggling to wrap my head around that. 

So, to me, Imbolc is—or should be—the beginning of spring. When I lived on the farm it was the time when we prepared for the coming season. Snowdrops and other early flowers were often blooming. Even when I delved a bit deeper into the meaning of Imbolc, 'the beginning of spring' kept being mentioned. 

Why then, do we say that 21st of March is the beginning of spring, not the middle? I get that's the date (approximately of course) when the Sun leaves Pisces and enters into Aries, and another trip around the zodiac, and I'm sure that there's some significance in that (I mean, as an astrologer I understand it, but as far as the seasons go it's still puzzling). Why is 'midsummer' not the middle of the summer, as the name implies, but rather considered to be the first day of summer?

It simply not adding up to me... but what do I know. I'm just an old hippie!

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Charlie Rainbow Wolf is happiest when she is creating something, especially if it can be made from items that others have cast aside. Pottery, writing, knitting, and Tarot are her deepest interests, but she happily confesses that she’s easily distracted, because life offers so many wonderful things to explore. Charlie has been reading the Tarot professionally for over two decades, and can't imagine life without it. She is an advocate of organic gardening and cooking, and lives in the Midwest with her husband and special-needs Great Danes.

Comments

  • Mark Green
    Mark Green Wednesday, 31 January 2018

    Traditionally, the cross-quarter holidays were the beginnings of the seasons. Thus, the winter solstice is "midwinter", and the summer solstice "midsummer". Imbolc would be considered the beginning of spring.

  • Charlie Rainbow Wolf
    Charlie Rainbow Wolf Wednesday, 31 January 2018

    Hi Mark!

    I totally understand that this is indeed the beginning of spring, as far as the wheel of the year goes. My question is more why the calendars and almanacs tell is that 21st March is 1st day of spring, that midsummer is the first day of summer, that 21st of September is the 1st day of autumn, and that midwinter is the 1st day of winter. There's something off, somewhere, don't you think?

    Hope you're having a great day!

  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper Friday, 02 February 2018

    There is a divide between modern meteorology and traditional practices. The Chinese calendar and the Medieval European one had spring in February, etc. When modern people wanted more precise weather, they started the practice. Now we have meteorological winter start on December 1.

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