Why Do We Call Spring “Spring” ?
updated version of this article
Do you know why we call the springtime of the year, “Spring”?
No. Why do we call Spring “Spring”?
Because this is the time of year when new life springs out.
The leaves spring out from the dead twigs. During this beautiful
season the new year springs out from the old. In fact, it was
during this season on March 25 that we used to celebrate New Years Day.
But New Years is celebrated on January the first.
Now, it is. Yes. However, before January 1, 1752 AD
New Years Day was celebrated on March 25. [see endnote 1]
Why that date ?
As I said that is when the new life sprang forth. It also
has to do with how the years are numbered. What great event in the
past is the reason that we separate our years into the two categories BC
and AD ?
Uhm. When Jesus Christ came into the world. Right ?
Yes. And what feast do we celebrate that happening ?
Not exactly. Let me ask it this way. How many months
before Jesus was born did the Archangel Gabriel come to Mary to announce
God’s good news to save mankind, and to ask for her consent ?
When did the miracle happen inside the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Nine months - more or less - before Christmas.
Right. And so what feast do we celebrate nine months before
Christmas on March 25.
The Feast of the Annunciation, I think.
Right. So, when did Christ first come to us ?
Oh. I see. He came to us nine months before Christmas.
And we celebrate that on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.
Exactly. So, the turning point from B.C. to A.D. is when Christ
came into the world which is celebrated on March 25. And New Year’s
Day was celebrated on that Spring day when we commemorate the new Life
of Christ coming into the world. It was in the sixth century that
the Abbot Dionysius Exiguus [Latin for Dennis the Little] re-organized the calendar so that the years were numbered
in relation to that great event of Christ’s coming. His system led
to the adoption of the terms BC and AD. The years before
Christ are B.C. The years after Christ’s coming are A.D.
[see endnote 2]
Dionysius began the Christian era with the Feast of the Annunciation,
March 25, on which we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world.
Although some have claimed that Dionysius's calculations were off by a few years
some new research has validated his
calculations. The important thing is
that his system of counting
the years has been helpful to mankind in focusing on what is truly important,
our Savior Jesus Christ. The turning point in all of human history
is when Jesus Christ became
man. [see endnote 3]Some time later:
The fact that March 25 used to be New Year's Day can be easily verified by
looking at the entry for
March in any encyclopedia.
John, do you know that the months September, October, November,
and December get their names for being the seventh, eighth, ninth, and
tenth months of the year ?
But, how is that ? They are the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and
twelfth months of the year ?
The original Roman calendar only had ten months beginning with March
as the first month. Perhaps this was partially based on the Jewish custom
of also starting their calendar year in the Spring. Then the early
Romans added the months January and February bringing the total number
of months in their calendar to twelve. The standardized calendar
that we use today took centuries to develop. Previously, there were
many different calendars both secular and religious. Do you remember
when we talked about why they call Spring “Spring” and how March
25 used to be New Year’s Day ?
I vaguely remember. Could you remind me again what you had
Yes, of course. Remember, it was the Christian Abbot Dionysius
who restructured how the years are numbered based on when Jesus Christ came into
the world. We celebrate that great event on the Feast of the Annunciation,
March 25, nine months before Christmas. March 25 became the official
New Year’s Day in his calendar. This calendar was
adopted throughout Europe. This calendar was used in England and the British
colonies from the thirteenth century until January 1, 1752, when the present
calendar was adopted there. We continue to celebrate that great event
of the Annunciation every year on March 25. On that day we celebrate
how the Archangel Gabriel delivered God’s message to the Blessed Virgin
Mary. And Mary accepted God’s invitation to be the mother of His
Son, who has existed from all eternity. And so Jesus came into the
world on that day to begin living inside of Mary’s womb for nine months.
Now, I remember, but I had forgotten. Thank you for reminding
me, as I will now remember it better.
This is true for England and the British Empire including the American
colonies. This fact can be verified by looking at any good almanac
or encyclopedia under the entries for March, Calendar, New Year’s Day,
etc. There were both secular and religious calendars in the past,
as is still the case today. And these varied from place to place.
In many other countries the secular calendars were standardized into the
present format in the year 1582. Although, the tradition of January
1 being New Year’s Day goes back to Julius Caesar and his calendar in 46
The tradition of celebrating the New Year in the Springtime goes
back to an ancient Jewish tradition of celebrating it in the month of Nisan,
which corresponded to the month of March. It was during this month
that the Passover Feast was celebrated. Although the Jews currently celebrate New Years at Harvest time, they used
to celebrate it in the Spring according to their ancient Passover tradition.
See Exodus chapter 12.
“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month
shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first
month of the year. … every one of your families must procure for itself a
lamb … it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. … you shall eat
like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD.’ ”
[This month is called Abib, Exodus 23:15 – or Nisan, Babylonian name Neh. 2:1, – or March. It
occurred in the Springtime near the vernal equinox]
“In fact, an ancient Passover poem, used in
synagogue liturgy, depicts four great events in salvation history occurring
on the same calendar day as Passover: the creation of the universe, the
covenant with Abraham, and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt all occurred on
the night of the Passover. And it was on this night that the future
messianic king was expected to bring redemption.” [ Edward P. Sri’s article
“The Heart of the Home” in CFR, (Steubenville: Emmaus Road, 1998)
edited by Hahn and Suprenant, pages 165-166, in a reference to poem called
the “Poem of the Four Nights,” found in the Jewish targum Neophyti, cited
in Lucien Deiss, It’s the Lord’s Supper (London: Collins, 1975),
A.D. is an abbreviation for Dionysius Exiguus’ Latin phrase “anno Domini
nostri Jesu Christi,” translated into English as “in the year of our Lord, Jesus
Christ.” Venerable Bede (673?-735) promoted this pattern of numbering the
years by introducing the term B.C. as an English abbreviation denoting the years “before
Christ.” Charlemagne was the first ruler to give it a wide usage.
In 525 AD Pope John I had requested that Dionysius Exiguus [Dennis the
Little] compute a table or cycle for computing the future dates of Easter.
Dionysius produced his book Liber de Paschate in 532 AD. He
began his new book with the Easter cycles with the words “anno Domini
nostri Jesu Christi DXXXII” (Latin for “in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ
532,” or A.D. 532) [See Endnote 2 ]
In the beginning of
this book Dionysius wrote a letter to the Bishop Petronius where Dionysius
explains his reasoning for his new way of numbering the years. Up until
this time it had been custom to number the years according to the beginning
of the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) who had greatly
persecuted the early Christians. Dionysius wrote these words to Bishop
“We have been unwilling to connect our cycle with the name of
an impious persecutor [Diocletian], but have chosen rather to note the years
from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the end that the
commencement of our hope might be better known to us and that the cause of
man’s restoration, namely, our Redeemer’s passion, might appear with clearer
evidence” (Migne, Vol. 67, 1865, p. 20, “Epistolae Duae De Ratione Paschae,”
English translation of Latin text).
“Christ is ‘the goal of human history, the focal point of the desires of
history and civilization, the center of mankind, the joy of all hearts, and the
fulfillment of all aspirations’ ”
[JPII Mane nobiscum Domine 6]
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