Friday, February 01, 2008

Spring. Oh goodie.

Did you know that today is the first day of spring? Most you will be saying of course you didn't and what a damn stupid idea it is to say that spring starts with February when it's cold, windy, wet and snowing in lots of places. If you did, you are probably Irish. For today, February 1, is St Brigid's Day which, traditionally is the first day of spring.

Like all good saints, Brigid probably didn't exist. There are, of course, traditional stories of her life but she bears a suspicious similarity to a pagan goddess along with the various holy wells and attributes which were appropriated wholesale by the early church.

Still, St Brigid's Day is the sort of old festival I enjoy, principally because even the people who know of its existence its primarily of antiqurian interest. You certainly won't get the big hoo-hah and idiotic Paddy-whackery of St Patrick's day, and none of the commercialism that attends, well, pretty much every festival. (You can buy a special St Brigid's cross if you're in Ireland. Haven't even seen them in Kilburn, though).

Really, though, there is no sensible way you can argue that spring begins on February 1 . (I know of Irish people who will argue to the contrary, by taking the sort of pedantic, doctrinaire view of time that is better suited to a German human resources manager). Even though, as I write London is warm and sunny, much of Britain and Ireland is being lashed by storms and the weather could become very nasty, very quickly.

For all that I like the idea of starting spring now. It's the insane optimism which appeals, this idea that renewal, warmth and sunlight are here, or if they're not, then believing it so might somehow hurry it along. Brigid is, after all, a fire goddess. It's common place now to complain about Christmas things or Easter things going on sale months before the proper time. (Why I saw some hot cross buns on sale today. Before Shrove Tuesday even. Who cares? Not I).

Given that this longing for spring is probably one of the deepest longings of all (even basic instincts such as hunger, lust etc need the weather to turn eventually) it's little wonder that the old Gaelic tradition was a little premature.

In that spirit, then, here's something very fine indeed. Tom Waits, singing You Can Never Hold Back Spring.

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Blogger Quink said...

How can you talk about St Bride and not mention her cow?

For me, spring starts somewhere around May":

"Hooray, hooray, the first of May.
Outdoor fucking begins today."

3:22 pm  
Blogger dominic said...

Well, the Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales doesn't recognize this as big B's day - see here

Feria all the way.

So no worries. It's only spring in the old country. But not in County K

9:27 pm  

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