March Interfaith Observances and Celebrations
March is a busy time for Interfaith Observances and Celebrations. Beginning with the Welsh feast, St. David's Day on the 1st and ending with the most important feast for the Jain, Mahavir Jayanti on the 30th, many of the feasts remembered during March center around sacrifice, renewal/rebirth and growth, which are full of symbolism.
Symbols are an important part of many traditions. Rabbits, pussy-willows, baby animals, spring flowers, and eggs are just some of the spring images that have traveled through time and across cultures, reminding us of the cycles of life.
If you're Irish and American, you might be celebrating St. Patrick's Day on March 17th by wearing green, eating corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and singing the songs your mother taught you long ago. Green is symbolic of life as well as one of the colors associated with the Irish flag. For most folks in Ireland, however, the day is a religious observance of St. Patrick one of the three patron saints of Eire. (Sts. Bridget and Colmcille are the other two.)
For those who follow the cycles of the seasons, one of the most welcome observances celebrated is that of the spring equinox (March 20); the official end of winter. This is also the feast of Ostara or Ēostre whose name comes from the Proto-Germanic root for dawn. In fact, Ēostre is where we get the word, "Easter."
Another cycle dawns just after the equinox. The birth of a new year celebrated on the 21st of March by Persians and those of the Baha'i and Zoroastrian beliefs.
After the long winter, many people welcome the bright colors associated with spring. In India, during the spring festival of Holi (March 23), people chase each other with colored powder and water. By the end of the day everyone is a rainbow of blues, yellows, reds, and all the colors in between.
But all is not happy colors. The Christian season of Lent continues into March this year. During the forty days of Lent, many people make sacrifices in their personal lives, offering up bad habits or doing works of mercy.
People of the Jewish faith celebrate the feast of Purim on March 24 this year. According to the writings in the Book of Esther, there is an exchange of gifts, feasting and celebration and gifts given to the poor. Purim commemorates the how Esther saved her people from certain death.
No matter what you observe during the days of this month of March, may your days grow greener with each passing; may the winds blow gently at your back and may you find renewal in your hearts and spirits, as the cold months of winter begin to ebb.