Let’s be honest: with all that is happening to us and around us, it may sometimes feel like we collectively got dealt a bad hand. But among all the things we cannot control, good and bad, there is one force that we can count on, that leads to the kind of change that we eagerly await, not the one we abhor, the change we can carefully plan, not the change that is uninvited.
And Spring is the perfect metaphor for change, as it beckons us to expectation and hope. It’s not just the daffodils tossing their heads in sprightly dance, an image Wordsworth vividly captures, that give us hope.
Throughout this season, it is almost like nature conspires with biology and psychology to remind us of the values that underlie hope – giving us a renewed sense of survival, spirituality and attachment to the things we love. There are many metaphors of hope: there are light and heat (with psychologist Karl Menninger calling hope the indispensable flame of mental health), there is the bridge, that transports us from darkness to light (with Aristotle calling hope a waking dream), and we can also perceive hope as a healing agent, or as an ally that sustains health.
This rings true for the six universities that are participating in the SEA-EU consortium – their joint effort in establishing a multilingual and pluri-ethnic European University that aims at gaining more knowledge about the marine environment is in itself a beacon of hope towards a better understanding of what literally surrounds them … the ocean.
So where do these universities derive their hope? How hopeful are they?
- The Maltese say F’April, qatra xita tiswa’ daqs karru deheb fin (A drop of rain in April is worth a chariot of fine gold), as it is believed rain is quite important at this time of year to penetrate the soil and allow fruit and vegetables to grow.
Malta is represented in the SEA-EU project by the University of Malta.
- The Spanish say La Primavera, la sangre altera (Spring heats up your blood), because like a lightbulb that lights up a dark room, the new season will dissipate heat and keep us warm, giving us an impression that things may turn around.
Spain is represented in the SEA-EU project by the Universidad de Cádiz.
- The Polish say W marcu jak w garncu (March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb), since it tends to have unpleasant weather in the beginning but typically milder, warmer and more energising weather by the end.
Poland is represented in the SEA-EU project by the University of Gdansk.
- The French say En Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil (In April, don’t remove a thread of your clothing), because although the sun’s out, you might still get cold. In other words, while it’s good to be hopeful, be cautious of how much hope you hold out.
France is represented in the SEA-EU project by the University of Western Brittany, Brest.
- The Germans celebrate May Day, an ancient festival to welcome the spring weather. Traditionally, people believed that it was dangerous to be outside at night, so they lit fires to keep them warm and keep the evil spirits away.
Germany is represented in the SEA-EU project by Kiel University.
- The Croatians say Jedna lasta ne čini proljeće (One swallow does not make a summer/spring), meaning that just because one good thing has happened, it doesn’t mean that the situation will improve).
Croatia is represented in the SEA-EU project by the University of Split.
In the meantime, why don’t you subscribe to receive updates about Blue Talks, the series of short online events focused on the topic of a blue economy organised by the SEA-EU? The talks are delivered in the form of a one-hour webinar where an expert presents the state of play in their field and participants are invited to contribute.
What other spring-related proverbs or traditions come to mind? Share below!
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