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How to Celebrate the Spring Equinox in Appalachia

March 19-21

Pear blossoms at Mallow Rose Cottage.

Light Overcomes Darkness

At the Spring Equinox, day and night share an equal amount of time. As the amount of light grows longer and more intense, all the plants and animals hibernating underground begin to rise and clammer for the Sun. After the long, cold dark of winter, the annual arrival of spring embodies new beginnings and an opportunity to restart with fresh perspectives.

Daffodils (Narcissus) in bloom at Mallow Rose Cottage.

Pagan Easter

Also referred to as Ostara by many Pagans, Spring Equinox traditions had a profound influence on the Christian holiday of Easter. With intertwined etymologies, both terms can trace their origin to the Germanic Goddess of Spring named Ēostre.

Similar to the Irish goddess Brigid and the Welsh goddess Braint, Ēostre makes her welcome return to the world of the living as the weather warms and flowers emerge. For modern Druids, this date also marks the holiday of Alban Eilir: the second of three spring festivals (Imbolc being the first and Beltane being the last).

According to Hellenistic mythology, Persephone, the goddess of flowers and death, makes her presence known across the land. Followers of the Orphic tradition of Ancient Greece celebrated the mysterious Lesser Rite of the Eleusinian Mysteries some time between Imbolc and Ostara, with the Greater Rite celebrated around the Autumn Equinox.

Bunnies, rabbits, and hares are natural symbols of fertility, with their numerous offspring munching away at all the fresh foliage. Baskets of colorful eggs also represent the productive qualities of this season, as well as the transformation of life and death.

People have been painting eggs for many millennia, with the earliest archaeological evidence from Africa dating back to around 60,000 years ago. Long before the birth of Christ, different cultures around the Middle East and beyond decorated eggs for ceremonial purposes. In modern-day Iran, people continue this tradition as an integral part of the annual spring festival Nowruz (also known as the Persian New Year).

Purple toadshades (Trillium cuneatum) in bloom in the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

Appalachian Spring

Flowers edged with morning frost bend toward the rising Sun. Waves of daffodils spread over the forest floor while the tree buds swell to form a canopy overhead. Trilliums and trout lilies show their ephemeral beauty in subtle shades. Erratic weather brings uncertainty, as the last flurries of snow flutter over hills and hollers.


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