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Spring is one of the four conventional temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. When it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. At the spring equinox, days are approximately 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses.
Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, monsoonal or cyclonic. Often, cultures have locally defined names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe.
Meteorologists generally define four seasons in many climatic areas: spring, summer, autumn (fall) and winter. These are demarcated by the values of their average temperatures on a monthly basis, with each season lasting three months. The three warmest months are by definition summer, the three coldest months are winter and the intervening gaps are spring and autumn. Spring, when defined in this manner, can start on different dates in different regions.
In most Northern Hemisphere, temperate locations, spring months are March, April and May, although differences exist from country to country. (Summer is June, July, August; autumn is September, October, November; winter is December, January, February.) Most Southern Hemisphere, temperate locations have opposing seasons with spring in September, October and November.
Swedish meteorologists define the beginning of spring as the first occasion on which the average daytime temperature exceeds zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days, thus the date varies with latitude and elevation. In Australia and New Zealand, spring conventionally begins on 1 September and ends 30 November.
Astronomical and solar reckoningEdit
In some cultures in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g. Germany), the astronomical Vernal equinox (varying between 19 and 21 March) is taken to mark the first day of spring, and the Summer solstice (around 21 June) is taken as the first day of summer. In Persian culture the first day of spring is the first day of the first month (called Farvardin) which begins on 20 or 21 March. In other traditions, the equinox is taken as mid-spring.
In the traditional Chinese calendar, the "spring" season (春) is not equivalent to the European spring but instead consists of the end of winter (from 4 February) and beginning of spring (to 5 May), roughly taking the equinox as its midpoint. Similarly, according to the Celtic tradition, which is based solely on daylight and the strength of the noon sun, spring begins in early February (near Imbolc or Candlemas) and continues until early May (Beltane).
Other calendar-based reckoningEdit
The beginning of spring is not always determined by fixed calendar dates. The phenological or ecological definition of spring relates to biological indicators, such as the blossoming of a range of plant species, the activities of animals, and the special smell of soil that has reached the temperature for micro flora to flourish. These indicators, along with the beginning of spring, vary according to the local climate and according to the specific weather of a particular year. Most ecologists divide the year into six seasons that have no fixed dates. In addition to spring, ecological reckoning identifies an earlier separate prevernal (early or pre-spring) season between the hibernal (winter) and vernal (spring) seasons. This is a time when only the hardiest flowers like the crocus are in bloom, sometimes while there is still some snowcover on the ground.
During early spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt relative to the Sun, and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly, causing new plant growth to "spring forth," giving the season its name.
Many flowering plants bloom at this time of year, in a long succession, sometimes beginning when snow is still on the ground and continuing into early summer. In normally snowless areas, "spring" may begin as early as February (Northern Hemisphere), heralded by the blooming of deciduous magnolias, cherries, and quince, or August (Southern Hemisphere) in the same way. Many temperate areas have a dry spring, and wet autumn (fall), which brings about flowering in this season, more consistent with the need for water, as well as warmth. Subarctic areas may not experience "spring" at all until May.
While spring is a result of the warmth caused by the changing orientation of the Earth's axis relative to the Sun, the weather in many parts of the world is affected by other, less predictable events. The rainfall in spring (or any season) follows trends more related to longer cycles—such as the solar cycle—or events created by ocean currents and ocean temperatures—for example, the El Niño effect and the Southern Oscillation Index.
Unstable spring weather may occur more often when warm air begins to invade from lower latitudes, while cold air is still pushing from the Polar regions. Flooding is also most common in and near mountainous areas during this time of year, because of snow-melt which is accelerated by warm rains. In North America, Tornado Alley is most active at this time of year, especially since the Rocky Mountains prevent the surging hot and cold air masses from spreading eastward, and instead force them into direct conflict. Besides tornadoes, supercell thunderstorms can also produce dangerously large hail and very high winds, for which a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is usually issued. Even more so than in winter, the jet streams play an important role in unstable and severe Northern Hemisphere weather in springtime.
Spring in the Southern Hemisphere is different in several significant ways to that of the Northern Hemisphere for several reasons, including:
- there is no land bridge between Southern Hemisphere countries and the Antarctic zone capable of bringing in cold air without the temperature-mitigating effects of extensive tracts of water;
- the vastly greater amount of ocean in the Southern Hemisphere at all latitudes;
- at this time in Earth's geologic history the Earth has an orbit which brings it in closer to the Southern Hemisphere for its warmer seasons;
- there is a circumpolar flow of air (the roaring 40s and 50s) uninterrupted by large land masses;
- no equivalent jet streams; and
- the peculiarities of the reversing ocean currents in the Pacific.
Albania celebrates the lunar Spring Day (Albanian: Dita e Verës or Dita e Luleve) on 14 March, and from 2004 it has been a national holiday. It is an old pagan practice, particularly popular in the city of Elbasan, central Albania.
According to some sources, Dita e Verës derives from the Arbëreshë, an Albanian community that has lived in Italy since the 15th century. On 14 March, the Arbëreshë of the Italian coast collect a tuft of grass roots and soil, bringing it home to commemorate the anniversary of their emigration from Albania. In fact, some sources date back this celebration to ancient Illyria. At that time, the feast was celebrated on 1 March, which in the Julian calendar, corresponded to the first day of the year.
The annual Spring Racing Carnival of thoroughbred horse racing events is held in Melbourne in October and November, with large crowds attending. The Melbourne Cup, held on the first Tuesday of November, is Australia's premier horse race and is recognised as a public holiday in the host city of Melbourne. It is also referred to as the race that stops a nation.
Floriade is a festival of flowers that happens in the national capital of Canberra to celebrate the coming of Spring. This festival has large flower displays, shaped in imagery to a particular theme. This festival is held next to lake Burley Griffin, and attracts many tourists each year.
As in Canada, Queen Victoria's birthday on the 24th of May has remained a public holiday in the British Overseas Territory. The name and dedication of the holiday changed over the 20th Century, however, becoming Empire Day, then Commonwealth Day and now Bermuda Day. In its current incarnation, the day has been used since the 1970s to celebrate Bermuda's diversity and unity, with a large parade in the City of Hamilton that replaced the earlier Easter Parade that many black Bermudians had felt was irredeemably marred by racism. The 24th of May is also traditionally the first day of the year when Bermudians will swim, despite local waters being warmed by the Gulf Stream. The humidity of Bermuda's Oceanic climate ensures its winters and summers are mild (respectively, neither as cold nor as warm as experienced in continental areas such as New York), but also means that temperatures are slow to change, other than through the blasts of Arctic air behind the cold fronts that sweep across from North America, most forcefully during the winter, at intervals of several days). This means that cool, wet and blustery weather is typical in Bermuda late in Spring when temperatures in the North-East of the United States have already begun spiking to levels Bermuda will not see until mid-summer (this is not always apparent from comparing average high temperatures as Bermuda's humid climate also moderates temperature change during the course of a day, with only a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference between daily high and low temperatures. By comparison, the average high and low temperatures for the 1st of May in New York City are 67° and 50°, and on the 31st of May are 75° and 59°. In Bermuda, the historical averages for those dates are 74° and 62° on the 1st, and 79° and 67° on the 31st. The record high for May in New York, however, was 97° on the 20th of May, 1996. The highest temperature ever recorded in Bermuda at any time of year was 94°, although the temperature has climbed above 86° in only a handful of years since records began). Bermudians consequently joke that they do not swim again, following the traditional dip on the 24th of May, 'til the weather has warmed further.
Victoria Day in Canada is celebrated on the Monday on or before 24 May. The holiday is celebrated in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday, but is often informally considered as marking the beginning of the summer season in Canada.
Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the "third day" (two days after his crucifixion), and celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day, two days after Good Friday. The date of Easter varies between 22 March and 25 April (which corresponds to between 4 April and 8 May in the Gregorian Calendar for the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches using the Julian Calendar). In the Southern Hemisphere Easter occurs during autumn.
Shom ennisim is an Egyptian national holiday marking the beginning of spring. Ancient Egyptians (from the pharaonic period) used to celebrate the Harvest of the Wheat and modern Egyptians have continued celebrating this holiday even now. It always falls on the day after the Eastern Christian Easter (following the custom of the largest Christian denomination in the country, the Coptic Orthodox Church). Despite the Christian-related date, the holiday is celebrated by Egyptians regardless of religion.
Nowruz (also Nevrooz, Naw-Rúz, Norooz, Newroz, Navroj, and many other variants) which means "New Day" in Persian language, marks an important traditional holiday festival celebrated in Iran as it signifies the start of their new year. It is an important traditional holiday as well as in many other countries with a significant population of Persian and Turkic people, such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and by Kurdish communities in Turkey and Iraq and elsewhere. Also many people celebrate Nowruz in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. More over in some part of China (Kashgar and Xinjiang), India (Kashmir) and Africa (Zanzibar).
In the ancient Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan was the original first month of the year. The Jewish holiday of Passover (פסח) is celebrated in the 15th of Nisan, and is also known as "The Spring Holiday" (חג האביב). The State of Israel holds during the spring three national holidays: Yom HaZikaron LaShoah VeLaGevurah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers) and Yom Ha-Atzmaut (Independence Day).
Holi, the festival of colours, celebrated at the end of the winter season and beginning of spring, is the most vibrant festival of colours celebrated by Hindus in India. People throw water and apply coloured powders on each other.
Vasant Panchami is celebrated in North India on the fifth day of the Indian month Magh (January–February), the first day of spring. Sankranti in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu are celebrated in mid-January to mark the beginning of the spring season.
In Assam Valley, Rongali Bihu is celebrated for seven days from 13 to 19 April. This is a harvesting festival celebrated in spring by all sections of the community, which distinguishes it from other Indian festivals that are more religious in nature.
1 May is the date of many public holidays. In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. As a day of celebration, the holiday has ancient origins, and it can relate to many customs that have survived into modern times. Many of these customs are due to May Day being a cross-quarter day, meaning that (in the Northern Hemisphere where it is almost exclusively celebrated) it falls approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. In the Celtic tradition, this date marked the end of spring and the beginning of summer. In line with this, Ireland celebrates St. Brigid's Day (1 February) as the first day of spring.
The name is from the Sumerian for "barley", originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring, in the month of Nisannu (Aries). In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk's victory over Tiamat.
In Nepal, people celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colours.
In Pakistan, spring season starts in middle of February and ends in last week of May.
Mărțișor (Romanian pronunciation: [mərt͡siˈʃor]) is an old Romanian celebration at the beginning of spring, on 1 March. Mărțișor, marț and mărțiguș are all names for the red and white string from which a small decoration is tied, and which is offered by people on the 1st day of March. Symbolically, it is correlated to women and to fertility as a means of life and continuity. The tradition is authentic in Romania, Moldova and all territories inhabited by Romanians and Aromanians.
Cultural anthropological history of the 'Traditional New Year', which is celebrated in the month of April, goes back to an ancient period in Sri Lankan history. Various beliefs, perhaps those associated with fertility of the harvest, gave birth to many rituals, customs, and ceremonies connected with the New Year. The advent of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC led to a re-interpretation of the existing New Year activities in a Buddhist light. The majority of the people in the country are Buddhists and Hindus, and as such, it is the Buddhist outlook that was predominant in transforming the New Year rites to what they are now.
Vietnamese use the traditional lunar as well as the modern solar calendar. They celebrate Tết (Vietnamese New Year) in late January or early February is also known as the beginning of spring. The lunar calendar is used mainly to divide the year into seasons for agriculture purposes. In the old days, the celebration used to last the entire month of January of the lunar calendar. Traditionally, firecrackers are used on New Year's Eve, or đêm giao thừa in Vietnamese, to scare away bad spirits and souls.
"Spring" as a metaphorEdit
Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life (both plant and animal) being born. The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times.
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