Happy February 1st, the First Day of Spring

Living in Boston after four years in Dublin, I really appreciate hot summer days. For reasons explained below, there never are hot summer days in Dublin. But as much as I appreciate New England summers, I miss springtime in Dublin, where spring arrives a full two months sooner than here.

Despite what the rest of the northern hemisphere thinks, in Ireland February first – not March 21st – is the official first day of spring. So today, while New Englanders continue to deal with winter, Dubliners are watching the daffodils popping up!

Why February First?

As every first grader is taught in Ireland……spring officially starts on February first to honor St. Brigid, who, according to pagan legend, was able to make even the rocky farms of Ireland productive. The pagans honored Brigid February first because it was the first day of spring in the pagan calendar. [Similarly, the pagan calendar had a feast on the first day of summer (May first), autumn (August first), and winter (November first), each tied to a pagan figure that had special powers vis-à-vis the growing of crops and wildlife.] Sometime back these four pagan figures were ‘legitimized’ by the Catholic Church by being given sainthood. And their Saints’ days became the official start of the Irish seasonal calendar. The result: No, Christian Ireland does not follow a pagan calendar; rather Ireland follows a ‘seasonal’ calendar — which just happens to coincide with the pagan calendar!

Why No Hot Summer Days?

Three factors result in Ireland’s temperate climate which does not change much during the year: a far northern latitude, being an island, and winter warmth from the Gulf Steam just off Ireland’s western coast. Regrettably, in the summer the combination of the northern latitude and the cool summer ocean breezes means that we just does not get Boston’s hot weather of June, July, and August. Fortunately, in the winter the warm breezes off the Gulf Stream mean that, despite its northern latitude, Dublin just does not get Boston’s cold weather of November, December, January, February, or March.

It may be “April in Paris,” but February and March are the months for Dublin!

The bottom line is that the weather around February first in Dublin equates to the weather around April first in Boston. Admit it — wouldn’t you really rather today was April first, not February first? AerLingus is practically giving away tickets to Dublin at the moment. Give it a go, even for a long weekend.

4 Responses to “Happy February 1st, the First Day of Spring”

  1. Finn Says:

    Thankyou for this informative article, I was born and brought up in Ireland, now live in France and could never quite figure out why French spring starts on the 21st of March and Ireland the 1st of February.
    “You can see the whole world from your own garden if you only care to look”
    I obviously didn’t look enough!

    Best regards and have a pleasent Spring, when it finally arrives in Boston.

  2. What I Miss About Ireland « Change Agent Says:

    […] in Maine, my wife and my other sons are enjoying a springtime weekend in Dublin, where – as per a previous post – springtime arrives a full two months earlier than in […]

  3. tony Says:

    Ireland doesnt really have seasons the weather is generally miserable . I often wonder did that have an effect on the Irish humour.

  4. finbar looby Says:

    well Ireland may not have hot hot summers but I live in new York now from offaly Ireland and man is it cold as for boston winters in this part of the world are just to cold no wonder lots of the first people that arrived here died the were killed with the cold

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