the end of winter

what if tomorrow were the first day of Spring?  doesn’t seem too likely with all the weather folks are seeing.  but in our neck of the woods, most trees have buds and a few hearty souls are even beginning to flower.  last year was the first time that i heard of the difference between the first day of Spring (20 March) and the first Spring day, the first day when the shifting season made itself known.

then in Slow Time by Waverly Fitzgerald, i came across the idea of alternate dates for the beginnings of the seasons.  our seasons here in the northwest are quite similar to those of the British Isles where these dates were used in the Middle Ages.  take a look:

  • first day of Spring or Candlemas–February 2
  • equinox–March 20
  • first day of Summer–May 1
  • Midsummer’s Day–June 24
  • first day of Fall–August 2
  • equinox–September 23
  • first day of Winter or Martinmas–11 November
  • Midwinter’s Day–December 25

yes, i suppose Winter should begin on All Saints Day, but i like St Martin’s candles and lanterns opening the season that we will close with the blessing of candles on the Feast of the Presentation.  i also like stealing a few days from the dark and cold of winter.

so what will we be doing to celebrate the Presentation…having candles with dinner to gather us around the table, to create a sacred space, to welcome the coming light and saying together the Song of Simeon, the first time the child is recognized as the Light of the Gentiles:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.


  1. I’ve always thought that the “official” first day of each season made no sense. And, then how strange it is to celebrate “Midsummer’s Eve” three days after summer begins! But, here in New England the first official day of spring is sometimes quite wintry still.

    ~A thought provoking post!

  2. I’m poking around at old posts I missed before, kort. I am in love with this idea. I always feel like the official calendar is “off”. The only bad thing here is that I’d start having to think about August, my least favorite month, as being part of fall, my most favorite season. That messes up all my complaining and despairing about summer’s heat. Nevertheless, I’m going to write these down and pay attention. It does feel like winter is going to be sneaking in here soon!

    1. does it help to think of August as part of the harvest time? for all its heat and general blah-ness, the garden is producing prolifically just then…and do look for winter around St Martin’s Day here. the nice days become suddenly few and far between.

Leave a Reply