By Barbara McAllister
Word of the Day: Spring
As any grade schooler can tell you, spring is named for the time of year when plants and flowers spring up. Spoiler alert: They are exactly correct. The origin of the season’s name is notable for being just what it sounds, although that wasn’t the case at first. It started out being called lent or Lenten season, from the Old English word lengten that meant “to make longer” or “greater in length.” Back when daylight was the only source of light, most people lived off the land. The seasonal change to longer days had a huge impact on daily life. It wasn’t until around the 1300s that “lent” was replaced by “springing time,” as most plants dormant over the winter began to grow again. Through the years it became “springtime’” and eventually just “spring.”
For many years the vernal, or spring, equinox was considered the start of the new year in much of Europe, because that was the start of planting season. Life resumed with new beginnings when melting winter frost allowed farmers to start crops and animals to awake from hibernation. March, named for Mars the Roman god of war, was historically the time of year when military campaigns resumed. Inactive troops returned to wars they were unable to wage during the cold winter months. In the early Roman calendar, March (or Martius) was the arrival of the New Year for Romans and spring was celebrated with festivities and rituals.
In Italy spring is known as “primavera,” from which the pasta dish gets its name. Typically the pasta incorporates the first vegetables of sprint, such as peas, broad beans and spring onions. In Maine, spring is known as mud season. April showers may bring May flowers, but it also brings a messy muck