It’s spring! Perhaps not according to the calendar, but last week I went in search of spring and found the first shoots of tulips emerging from the ground after a long winter of dormancy. The emergence was about a week and a half behind schedule but I’ll take it.
This year, spring, or more precisely, the vernal equinox, will officially happen at 5:21 p.m., MDT, on Sunday, March 20. As it happens, there is a full moon on the evening of Saturday, March 19. That explains why Easter, this year, will fall on April 24, which is just about as late as it can get.
Easter, according to centuries-long tradition, is observed the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
The last time Easter fell on April 24 was in 1859 and it won’t happen again until 2095. The latest possible date is April 25, which last occurred in 1943, and will happen again in 2038. This year, Orthodox churches will observe Easter on the same date as the western churches
Other signs of spring? Unless you slept through it, we went on daylight time this past Sunday, and we’ll remain on daylight time until Sunday, November 6. If you’ve been annoyed these last few days by people wondering why you’re always an hour late for everything you may want to check your alarm clock.
For added confusion, we should note that March 1 is considered the first day of meteorological spring. Meteorological spring goes back to 1780 when an early organization for meteorology (study of weather) designated March 1 as the first day of spring, grouping each season into three calendar months. That actually goes back to the ancient Roman calendar in which the year began on March 1, which was also considered the first day of spring.
Actually, meteorological seasons make more sense than marking the seasons based on equinoxes and solstices. This way, summer begins on June 1, autumn on September 1, and winter on December 1. In Europe, for example, the summer solstice isn’t the beginning of summer; that shortest night of the year is Mid-Summer’s Night.
Of course, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, that annual celebration of Irish heritage and nonsense. Most of Montana’s colleges and universities are on spring break this week and that’s known to be a factor in raising the nonsense level in Butte’s celebration. Personally I’ve often tried to make a point to either go skiing or fishing on St. Patrick’s Day, depending on the weather. It’s safer that way.
Nevertheless, we’ll have corned beef and cabbage for dinner and maybe we’ll tell an Irish joke or two. Here’s one you might enjoy.
An Irishman, Kevin, and an American, Clint, are sitting in the bar at Cork Airport supping Guinness.
“I’ve come to meet my brother,” says Kevin. “He’s due to fly in from Chicago in an hour’s time. It’s his first trip home in 40 years.”
“Will you be able to recognize him?” asks Clint.
“I’m sure I won’t,” responds Kevin, “after all, he’s been away for a long time.”
“I wonder if he’ll recognize you?” questions Clint.
“Of course he will,” replies Kevin. “Sure, an’ I haven’t been away at all.”
A lot of Irish stories have a touch of gallows humor, likely a way Irish people tried to cope with the many hardships of life in Ireland, such as the poverty and starvation during the potato famine years. Between famine and the English, death was often close. So, I’ll close with this one.
Dermot McCann opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend Reilly. “Did ye see the paper?’ asked Dermot. “They say I died.”
”Yes, I saw it,” replied Reilly. “And where did you say you’re calling from?”