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Springtime traditions


Mason and I have been at the Briar Circle shack this week, and I guess we need to apologize for the impertinent weather. One way or another, we feel it’s our fault. Mason is on “spring break” from college, and that is why the weather is the way it is. It was fine last week for camping; it will be good next week for camping; it is never good for camping during spring break. At least that’s the way it has always been for me.

In the distant past, a week off school was given to students so they could help plant the spring crops, and the time was vital to the farm-family economy. I have a vivid recollection of brothers Rex and Jack telling me, “We had t’ help plant th’ fields,” when I asked where they’d been during a week in March, 1972.

“They let you off school for that?” I asked.

“No, Daddy let us have th’ week off for that. He kept us home to plant th’ crops, an’ he don’t care what th’ school thinks about it.”

This work holiday eventually became a springtime tradition. When I was a kid, it was always the week of Easter, but times have changed. Scholastic institutions do not observe Easter, and do not even have the break in spring any more. Now, it’s always scheduled somewhere on the tail-end of winter. Is it any wonder spring breaks can have cold weather, even snow or ice?

Spring begins March 20 this year. Daylight saving time begins 2 a.m. March 13. There are traditions observed by many people for these events. For one thing, on DST Sunday, some people will show up later than usual for church. It’s an embarrassing thing, to show up at what used to be 11 o’clock, and find the service over and everybody heading to Sunday dinner. These people will likely as not show up an hour late for work Monday on the 14, and explain to the boss, “I didn’t know the time had changed,” and the boss is not at all surprised they didn’t, too.  Eventually, though, we will all settle into the change, and enjoy the seeming “extra hour” of daylight.

Another tradition of the season allows gardeners to take advantage of this extra hour to replant the vegetables and flowers killed by the late-term freeze that nobody was expecting, even though it happens every year. Eternally optimistic, gardeners plant too early or too late. I do both, myself, but there are the farmers who will provide for my losses.

Growing up in the deep south, I knew a few people who would start planting fields and gardens on Good Friday. There are speculated dates for Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was crucified, and as the Jews and Romans did not use our Gregorian calendar, the exact date cannot be stated with absolute certainty. It is generally accepted by that Christ died on the day of the annual Jewish Passover observance.  The time to hold Passover is determined by the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and Easter comes the Sunday after that. If you want to plant your gardens by these lunar traditions, you will have to figure it out for yourself. If you want to study these things for their Christian relevance, get a copy of the highly readable The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop.

Some of the popular traditions around the Easter holiday are a little weird. Money is the motivating factor for marketers, and we won’t be able to sit down for decorated eggs, chocolate bunnies, Easter baskets, marshmallow Peeps, Easter church services, Easter dinner, and many other things associated with the holiday tradition of spending money. There are worthier traditions to keep, though.

However, Easter is way off, not till April 17.  We will say more about it then.

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