Spring of Arda (Realm Newsletter)
After the world was made through the music of Ilúvatar and the Ainur, the Valar entered into it, and began to shape the Kingdom of Arda. And though Melkor tried to claim the land for his own, he was thwarted. After this he left for a time, and the seven lords of the Valar and the seven Queens, the Valier, laboured in peace.
When they entered into Arda the Valar took on shapes very like to those of the coming Children of Ilúvatar, Elves and Men, and they shaped the world of Arda that it might be fit for the Children to inhabit. They took great joy from their labours and they walked on the Earth in great delight. Yavanna, Giver of Fruits, planted her seeds in the ground, and many things fair and beautiful began to grow. Aulë, spouse of Yavanna and master of all crafts, formed two mighty lamps, so that Middle-earth might be lit; they were filled by the power of the Valar and hallowed by Manwë, lord of Arda. One lamp was set in the north of the world, and it was named Illuin; and the other stood in the south, and was called Ormal.
Where the light of these two lamps met was the Isle of Almaren, in the Great Lake, and here the Valar dwelt happily, fearing nothing, marvelling at all that surrounded them. And this was the Spring of Arda; a time of peace and growth and joy. And Manwë ordained a great feast as they rested from their labours, and at that feast Tulkas the Valiant, and Nessa, who delights in dancing, were joined together. And all were content, unaware that the Spring of Arda would soon be marred by the works of Melkor.
For the Valar, the Spring of Arda was a time of great peace and happiness; and just as it is now, it was also a time of growth and new life. The Valar celebrated their Spring with a feast; we celebrate our own spring each year with a wide variety of traditions and customs.
April Fool’s Day is a holiday celebrated in many countries on April 1st. It is a day to play nice pranks, such as putting salt in the sugar pot, or setting someone’s alarm clock an hour early or late. The French traditionally celebrated this holiday by placing a dead fish on the back of friends. Unfortunately, these days the fish is substituted by a paper cut out. However, you have to play the pranks before noon or you’re the fool!
Another popular celebration is Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday). Different countries hold it on different dates, for example, in France it is usually held on the last Sunday in May, whereas in Panama it is held on December 8th. In the UK, this day is a holiday for honouring mothers, and in the US it is a memorial day for women.
The main Christian festival during the spring is Easter, when they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, following his crucifixion. The eggs which are given and received at Easter are a symbol of new life and have gone through many stages of development before becoming the chocolate versions we all think of, from the painted hen eggs which were their origin, right through to the famous Fabergé eggs, encrusted with jewels.
In India, they celebrate Holi (aka Festival of Colours), a Hindu spring festival.On the first day, bonfires are lit at night to signify burning Holika (sister of King Hiranyakashyapu, who agreed to try and kill the King’s son by burning him, but instead was burnt herself). On the second day (Dhulandi,) people throw coloured powder and water at each other. A special drink called ‘thandai’ is prepared and people invite each other to their houses for feasts and celebrations later in the evening. Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on the fifth day of the full moon( Panchami). This marks the end of the festival.
Wiccans celebrate no less than three festivals during spring. The first, Imbolc, is celebrated right at the beginning of the season, and is held in honour of the goddess Brigid. The next is Ostara, the spring equinox, celebrated around the same time as Easter. It is held in honour of the goddess Eostre, the Saxon goddess of fertility, and is thought to be a time of fertility, growth and new life. Some of its traditions have now also become associated with the Christian festival of Easter.
Beltane, which runs from sundown to sundown on April 30th to May 1st, is a festival of fire, dancing about the Maypole and Morris Dancers. The Dancers direct origin is lost to time but is strongly rooted in the Pre-Christian/Pagan mythology. Supposedly their was a fear that winter wouldn’t loosen its grip until Dancers with sticks or clubs would tap the earth to awaken Spring. In England this tradition has survived in the May Day celebrations which take place on the first Monday of every May, usually in the form of village fairs.
Of the many customs associated with Beltane, the bonfire is probably the most recognizable. Couples would pass between two such fires to insure the strength of their union, fertility and good fortune. Livestock also was led between them to receive the blessings of the Goddess and God. There is a wonderful custom in Germany where ‘Wild’ water is collected from any rushing stream, ocean or even dew in the moonlight and used throughout the year as a component of healing drinks and potions. Also the last of the years harvest of the corn husks were shaped into crude dolls and planted along with the first seeds sown to represent the continual cycle of death and rebirth which is the foundation of all Earth-based religions.
This year the realm of Ulmo added a new celebration to the spring festivals, which we named Elf Day. Since we all enjoy exchanging cards at Christmas, we decided to do it again. We chose March 25th, but that’s no reason why you shouldn’t celebrate it now – it’s still spring after all! There are plenty of beautiful e-cards available in the multimedia section just waiting to be sent. And since there are four seasons, we decided we should have four celebrations too – so we hope you’ll join in our Midsummer’s Day celebrations on June 20th and our Hobbit Day merry-making on September 22nd!