You might not recognise the Old English verb springan (sprang – sprungen) meaning to ‘jump up’ or ‘to grow’, but it gives us the roots of the season: spring. It was originally used in the expression ‘springing time’ when plants and flowers started to grow and spring out of the ground. It’s a time when the scent of flowers fills the air, the days start to get longer and temperatures start to rise.
In The Secret Garden (1911), Frances Hodgson Burnett describes spring as “the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine.”
This time of year has always been associated with the symbols of rebirth, awakening, fertility and hope. These ideas can be found in many of the religious and cultural festivals celebrated at this time of year; for example the Christian Easter festival and Holi, the Hindu festival of colours.
Spring is also associated with the birth of new romance. In the same way that the trees blossom in the garden, love blossoms in people’s hearts. Shakespeare said
“When birds do sing, hey ding a ding ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.”
And people are not only ready for new romance, but also new plans, new projects and new adventures. Back in Medieval England, spring was the time when people went on pilgrimages; spiritual journeys to important religious sites.
In his Canterbury Tales (1387-1400), Geoffrey Chaucer tells about a group of pilgrims who set off in “April, when the sweet showers fall”. He says that the “young sun”, the “tender leaves” and the “little birds” singing all made “folk long to go on a pilgrimage”. In the same way that nature comes to life, people felt the need to move towards something new and uplifting.
Not much has changed today. People still feel full of new energy in this season; they walk with a spring in their step and start spring cleaning their houses. New ideas spring to life in this season and, like the nature around us, we feel filled with the sense of hope and the excitement of a new beginning.