Spring has sprung!!
At least according to various calendars of the world’s faith traditions. Already in January, we had Lohri, Maghi, and Makar Sankranti – festivals that occur at the end of the winter solstice month according to the Hindu calendar. Feb. brings even more spring festivals, plus a few others.
Here are a few of the holidays that fall in February.
Imbolc/Feast of St. Brigid (Feb. 2): This cross-quarter holiday (pronounced i “as in dig”-mulk) marks the start of spring (in the Northern hemisphere) on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Brigid was the ancient Celtic goddess of fertility, healing, poetry, and the hearth. She was so revered that Christians had a hard time removing her from the hearts and minds of the people, so she became Saint Brigid of Kildare. Their legends are now inextricably intertwined. It’s also relevant that Feb. 2 is Groundhog’s Day – a nod to the divination abilities of the ancient goddess. Click here for more.
Setsubun (Feb. 3): This ancient Shinto holiday marks the start of spring in Japan. Most festivities center on rituals that chase away evil spirits. Hundreds of years ago, burning dried sardine heads and banging drums was all the rage. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see demon masks and the throwing of roasted beans. Click here for more.
Maha Shivaratri (Feb. 21): This Hindu holiday is celebrated throughout India to honor Shiva, one of the three primary deities in that set of traditions. Legends suggest that Shiva first danced the Tandava on this day and/or that Lord Shiva and Parvati married on this day. Rituals include bathing a Shiva linga either at home or at a temple. Click here for more.
Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26): This holy day for non-Orthodox Christians is usually observed by placing ashes on one’s forehead. It marks the start of Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter. We’re keeping this one short since most people on this list are probably familiar with Ash Wednesday, but click here if you’re looking for a bit more.