Definintion of spring:

Meteorologists generally define four seasons in many climatic areas: spring, summer, autumn and winter. These are distinguished by their average temperatures on a monthly basis, with each season lasting three months. The three warmest months are by definition summer, the three coldest months are winter, and the intervening gaps are spring and autumn. Spring, under this definition, can start on different dates in different regions. In most Northern Hemisphere locations, spring months are March, April and May. The vast majority of Southern Hemisphere locations will have opposing seasons with spring in September, October and November.

Astronomically, the spring equinox (this year March 20), should be the middle of spring (based on the angle of the sun and it’s heat) and the summer solstice (usually 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere and 21 December in the Southern Hemisphere) should be the middle of summer (because the sun is at its highest), but daytime temperatures lag behind by several weeks because the earth and sea take time to warm up.

Spring in Nature:

In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth,” giving the season its name. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, in a long succession sometimes beginning even if snow is still on the ground, continuing into early summer. In normally snowless areas “spring” may begin as early as February. Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, or monsoonal, or cyclonic. Often the cultures have locally defined names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe. Many temperate areas have a dry spring, and wet autumn (fall), which brings about flowering in this season more consistent with the need for water as well as warmth. Subarctic areas may not experience “spring” at all until May or even June, or December in the outer Antarctic.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, and of new life (both plant and animal) being born. Many hibernating animals “awake” and birds and other migratory animals head back north in the spring.  More and more flowers begin to bloom as the bees and butterflies distribute pollen. Spring is also thought of as the season of birth because some animals have mating cycles that enable them to give birth in the spring when food is plentiful and temperatures are favorable to raise their babies.

Spring Cleaning:

The most common usage of spring cleaning refers to the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name. However it has also come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their affairs in order before an audit or inspection could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.

It has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the New Year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. Another possibility of the origin of spring cleaning can be traced to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover. In remembrance of the Jews’ hasty flight from Egypt following their captivity there, during the eight-day holiday there is a strict prohibition against eating anything which may have been leavened. Jews are not only supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of them for the length of the holiday. Therefore, for the past 3,500 years, observant Jews have conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house.

In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especial practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. For the same reason, modern rural households often use the month of March for cleaning projects involving the use of chemical products which generate fumes.

Other spring time happenings:

Daylight savings time- You should have changed your clocks ahead 1 hour on 3/13. This time change is often termed “spring forward.” Most of the US does this to save on energy as the days start getting longer.

Easter- Although a Christian holiday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, it has become a day that many celebrate with the Easter bunny hiding eggs, baskets full of goodies and a delicious feast.

Baseball spring training- Many teams are already in training in Florida to get prepared for the regular season.

Spring Break- Although all school age kids get a spring break, it is synonymous with college kids going to the beach and having fun (sometimes a little too much!).

What does spring mean for you?

For me, it means beautiful weather, nature at it prime and a renewal of spirit.



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