In Spirit of Spring

My last post was about plants that can kill — nuclear power plants. This one is a few words about real plants and the great power for rebirth in nature. It is a perfect time for that, especially since on April 22 we are celebrating Earth Day.

Earth Day was established 41 years ago (in 1970) as a day dedicated to educating people about the importance of understanding and protecting our environment, and to celebrate our planet.

Earth

Apparently the idea of Earth Day has caught the emotions of many, and today more than 100 different countries celebrate Earth Day. The idea was originated by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in the 1960s and evolved over several years. You may wish to read “How the First Earth Day Come About” written by Senator Nelson himself.

Thinking about Earth Day and being familiar with Native American culture, I wonder if the concept of an Earth Day does not feel a bit strange from their perspective — after all for them every day was (and is) an Earth day. Their culture is rooted in connection to and respect for Mother Nature.

The vitality of the earth is pronounced this spring in our yard more strongly than in past years. Many plants of southern Arizona suffered great damage this winter which was unusually harsh — I do not remember such a cold winter since I moved here, and that was 11 years ago already! Oh, of course it was a very mild one in comparison to other places in this country, but for the plants not accustomed to such low temperatures, the freezing cold was deadly. So I was watching our yard anxiously, looking for signs of life in each plant. Some of them just did not make it, some are badly hurt, and some survived remarkably well.

prickly pear with new spring growth oleander with new spring growth
Mesquite tree
Fresh growth: prickly pear, oleander, mesquite tree

Seeing new growth is very exciting and calls for celebration. So this Friday, which is Earth Day, planting some new plants and trimming the old ones would seem an appropriate tribute that could even extend to the weekend.

It just happens, however, that this year April 22 is also a Good Friday, followed by Easter Sunday. These days are very important and celebrated by many in traditional ways, as in my native Poland for instance.

Coming from Polish culture I have kept some of its Easter traditions, like coloring Easter eggs and inviting family and friends for an Easter brunch. Not being a religious person, I see that holiday as a celebration of spring and new life.  So when I was introduced in this country to the concept of the Easter Bunny and to the fun of an Easter egg hunt, I embraced both with pleasure. I was nicely surprised to learn that the Easter Bunny was not an invention of American marketing, but was introduced to the States by German settlers in the 18th century.

The Easter egg (according to Wikipedia) is “a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in celebration of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.” Most cultures accepted the symbol of an egg as a start of new life. In springtime, birds are nesting and laying eggs, and rabbits and hares are prolific. Therefore, it is not surprising that eggs, chicks, and rabbits are common symbols of spring.

This year with Easter in late April we can all, religious and non-religious people, celebrate Earth Day and Easter at the same time and in a variety of ways. I see this as a very attractive, peaceful, and unifying time for all.

Alicja Mann's Easter Egg collection blue pot of flowers

Happy Earth Day, Happy Easter weekend, Happy Spring!

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Photo of Earth from the sumeRemus blog, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 France License. Text and other photos copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

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2 Comments on “In Spirit of Spring”

  1. karen sobel Says:

    Happy Easter, happy spring and happy Earth Day to you!


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