Most human customs and ritualistic ceremonies have a long history that probably took root centuries ago. They were no doubt started by primitive societies in their attempt to explain the unknown, which were often the mysterious elements of weather, be it rain, snow, wind, thunder, lightning, or the like. The position of the sun and climate changes relating the arrival and passing of the seasons were particularly mystical, beyond their comprehension. Their beliefs about the supernatural often led to superstitions, some aligned to early religious rites. That is why many customs and celebrations evolved out of weather and climatic foundations.
All over the world people observe special calendar days that recognize seasonal differences. The nature of each observance often depends on the kind of weather experienced at a given place at a specific time of the year. In Russia, for example, where the cold, snow, and ice often linger for long winter months and beyond, the people there are most anxious to bid farewell to their frigid conditions and to greet the coming of springtime. They, therefore, in great anticipation of a warming trend ahead, celebrate a merry seven-day holiday called Shrovetide as early as the first weeks in March. It is a time for fun and frolic, carnivals, last chance snow activities, spirited parties, and particularly the eating of pancakes, symbolic of the rounded sun that would soon fill the air with warmth.
For ancient peoples the shortest day of the year, December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, The winter solstice, meant that from that day on the sun would grow stronger and the hours of daylight would increase. So people held ceremonies in honor of the sun's eventual return, knowing that the sun would enable them to plant crops for their survival.
For many cultures the impending arrival of spring is celebrated with a theme of a fresh new start. Spring cleaning is commonplace. In many places there are special celebrations for the spring equinox on or around