Hump Day: March break, one of the earliest harbingers of the coming spring

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It’s March break. Can’t you tell? The traffic has practically disappeared from city streets and half the people you’re trying to contact are on vacation. When did March break become the new Christmas? Or the new summer vacation?

When I was a kid, it seems to me that no one went away on March break. Or maybe it was just us. I know that my parents certainly never took vacation during that time. My March breaks were spent either reading or watching more television than I thought was humanly possible. I would end the week bug-eyed and caught up on every soap opera on the air.

Today, practically everyone I know goes down south, skiing or somewhere else to either get away from the brutal Canadian winter or take advantage of it. I went skiing once. Once, and only once. My rear-end still hurts – and that’s from about 20 years ago. I was wearing jeans and fell so hard that I left a blue streak about a mile long down the mountain.

I’m not a big traveller, but even if I decided to go down south, I think I’d end up having a nervous breakdown from all the photos of stray cats and dogs I see people posting on Facebook. I don’t think I’d be able to handle seeing all those animals out there fending for themselves, even though I’m pretty sure the tourists take pity on them and feed them.

I’d end up taking them all home in my suitcase. “Excuse me, sir, but your luggage is peeing.” How do you explain that one?

All it did last week is snow. This week, it’s been raining non-stop. The snow is filthy, but at least it’s melting. In other words, it’s a typical March break. Spring is on the horizon and we’re revelling in the fact that the record amount of snow that buried us all winter is now melting at the speed of light.

And, like every year, everyone is getting lulled into the supposed “fact” that winter is over. With the bare pavement showing on city streets, people will start taking out their bicycles for quick rides around town. There are even tulips and other plants sprouting up through the snow. Spring is like puberty. It’s going to happen sooner or later. You can’t stop it. It’s just the natural course of things.

But let’s not get lulled into complacency. Spring isn’t completely here just yet. Sure, the clocks are going ahead this weekend. Sure, the snow is melting. Sure, Easter is just around the corner, although incredibly late this year. But we’re still in for a few storms.

These are the storms where people get really cranky, including me. I don’t mind winter, but March blizzards would test the patience of God, I think. At least with all this melting we’ll have somewhere to put it.

One day this month, however, we’ll head outside and smell that tell-tale sign of spring: melting dog droppings. Yup, you know you’re Canadian when you shed a tear at the first whiff of defrosted dog mess. They should bottle that aroma. OK, well maybe not, but it’s always one of the first signs of springs – albeit a gross one.

The clocks go ahead by one hour this weekend. On Monday, we’ll all be whining about losing an hour of sleep. There’ll be an increased number of car accidents. We’ll all be yawning at work. But oh man . . . it will be so nice to have that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. Of course, it’s not really an extra hour, because we would have lost one in the morning, but still… you know what I mean.

And what’s up with Easter being so late this year? It’s bad enough that we’re one of the have-not provinces when it comes to the lack of a February holiday, but it only makes matters worse when Easter is in the middle of August like it is this year. OK, so it’s really in late April, but it feels like August.

Have you ever wondered why Easter changes dates every year? According to, it’s because “in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon date of the year… In actuality, the date of the Paschal Full Moon is determined from historical tables, and has no correspondence to lunar events… The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity.”

So there you have it. Clear as mud! This year, Easter is April 24, only one day off from its latest possible date. Figures, eh, that it had to happen this year when we were inundated with snow. Makes the winter that much longer to get through. At least the weather should be nice by the time Easter comes. The snow should be long gone.

Even though there will be a few more snow storms this winter, the inevitability of spring has no choice but to come to fruition. Fear not, it will happen. The snow and the ice will melt. The dog poop will too. The tulips will sprout up from the ground. We’ll see the curbs again and won’t need to risk our lives backing out of our driveways.

Let’s all hope we can get through the rest of the winter in one piece without biting each other’s head off!

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