Spring Equinox starts this weekend the sun rises everywhere at 6.00 am and sets at 6.00 pm – that’s life and just the way it is .. because the earth is slightly tilted the sun ‘moves’ between the two tropics and we get our seasons. If the earth’s axis was not tilted we would have no seasons, nor of all these gorgeous flowers, tall majestic trees, blossoming bushes, crops of many sorts .. a multitude of plenty to chose from across the continents.
Winter is being shed, spring is springing – here in the northern hemisphere – bulbs are bursting through, blossom is waiting for a zephyr wind not the arctic bursts we have had – but we are lucky. Do you remember the days of coal fires to heat the house, to cook the food, heat the water? .. those were hard times .. and the sooty dust that went everywhere making all the surfaces and fabrics a slightly darker shade of pale?
The earth: High-resolution global composites of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (Wikipedia)
Spring cleaning could start when the days were getting warmer and longer .. more time to complete the jobs and the extra light meant crevices could be looked into!! Each day now we will have an extra fifteen minutes of light, as the sun moves higher in our horizon, every day until the summer solstice and then once again we start to lose the light little by little.
Our ancestors could only refill their straw mattresses once the hay was dry enough and the chimney sweeps could only do their sweeping once the winter fires were out. Surprisingly the chimney sweep is an ancient ‘profession’, being considered to be one of the oldest occupations in our known world.
Chimney Sweep in the 1850s
Our passion for housework seems to have evaporated over the years – we were house proud, ready to tackle the great unwashed at the dawn of longer days .. to bring sparkle, a fresh scent and sunlight back into our homes. Brushing brooms, dusting dusters, up the ladders until we had aching backs, watery eyes, weary arms .. bring out the hoover .. then let us get outside into the great outdoors: spring has sprung.
Passiontide is nearly upon us .. the Christian year still steeped in religious fervour influences us through its festivals and services, the legends that are passed on through the generations, recorded in books – we remember.
Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, is the dark fortnight leading up to Easter and is centred on a sequence of Stations of the Cross, inspired by the medieval tradition of processing to the images of Christ’s Passion: the Passiontide Processional a dramatic service held in St Peter's Basilica, Cathedrals and churches throughout the world.
Cross veiled during Passiontide in Lent (Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Tannheim, Baden Württemberg, Germany).
Most of us know the passiflora – the passion flower – so named by the newly arrived missionaries and settlers in South America after Columbus’ expeditions in the late 1490s. These superb climbing plants, whose intricate flowers of crimson, blue, flesh-coloured, yellow and greenish-white must have presented an arresting picture. Even today it is impossible to pass one of the most common varieties without a second glance – I can attest to that ... they are so pretty – let alone the taste of their fruits... oh oh oh! Perhaps ‘my champagne fruit’ comes first ... I mean it .. babaco ...
In their religious zeal, the Spaniards saw in this flower a God-given symbol of Christ’s Passion, and hailed it as an assurance of the ultimate triumph of the Cross. Each flower part bears a fancied resemblance to the instruments of the Passion:
The leaf symbolizes the spear;
The five petals and five sepals, the ten apostles (Peter who denied, and Judas who betrayed, being omitted;
The five anthers, the five wounds
The tendrils, the scourges
The column of the ovary, the pillar of the cross
The stamens, the hammers
The three stigmas, the three nails
The filament within the flower, the crown of thorns
The calyx, the glory
The white tint of the flower, purity
The blue tint, heaven
It keeps open for three days, symbolizing the three years’ of ministry
The passion flower climbed the Cross and covered its arms with flowers. [Above: Pink-white rakhi flower at Kadalakurushi near Palakkad (Kerala, India)]
Today is Passion Sunday , the Spring Equinox and a quiet time to reflect as the days are lengthening giving us a renewal from the winter depths of dark and closedness, we can step out into the warmer days as the passion flower did clambering out to embrace this new burgeoning world.
The Mexicans called the flower Flos de las Cinco Llagas, the Flower of the Five Wounds, which once it reached Europe was called Flos-passionis. Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) under his system of scientific classification renamed it Passiflora, the Passion Flower.
Flower of Passiflora × belotii, a horticultural hybrid
We get passion flowers clambering around fences here and I shall look at the passion flower in a new light now I know a little more about its meaning, origins and naming.
Dear Mr Postman – my mother seems to be settled in, I have put up some more decorations – all have to be wipe-proof, which is somewhat frustrating as it is so limiting. We just have to go forward – I hope she can move back up as it is so much hotter and stuffier downstairs and she loves her coolness, even upstairs we had the fans on! (Not one, but two usually!). We’ll see. The clocks go forward next weekend .. then Spring will really be here for us – our daylight will go on suddenly to 7.30 in the evening .. it’s a lovely change: invigorating.
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