Holidays call for special meals, and sabbats are no different. The Vernal Equinox celebrates the arrival of spring, heralding the arrival of warmer weather and budding flowers. Fertility symbols abound at this holiday, both as decorations and as food: eggs, lambs, rabbits, and young vegetables

A flavor combination I love for spring is lemon and poppy seed. I tend to feel that lemon by itself is better suited for summer; paired with poppy seed, it has a depth to it that’s better for spring. There’s a lot you can do with this flavor combination: pancakes for a lovely spring brunch, bread or muffins for snacktime or to serve at the table, or desserts in the form of cookies and cakes. I’ll be going the cookie/cupcake route myself, because I like to make another traditional spring bread: hot cross buns! I first made hot cross buns for the Vernal Equinox when I was in college; they were the first yeast bread I made all on my own. I love them, but I would never think of making them any other time of the year. And the Vernal is just not the same without them!

Another thing that, for me, is necessary on the Vernal is deviled eggs. Oftener than not, I take whatever eggs I’ve colored and turn them into deviled eggs – waste not, want not. There are probably a million deviled egg recipes out there (you can find 50 of them at this site), so you can play with the flavors and go for a variety. I tend to stick with a basic egg: Miracle Whip, with a dash of dijon mustard, and smoked paprika to top. No fuss to make, but not very exciting. I might try a couple new varieties this year, just to play with the assortment of flavors available.

The Vernal dinner should be a light but comforting affair. It’s spring, so we can start bringing bright, light dishes to the table. A salad is always a good choice, especially one featuring spring greens. One of my favorite salads for spring is a strawberry and spinach salad (with balsamic vinaigrette!), but since I’ve made that a couple times already, I’m going for something else. I’d love to make this asparagus soup, but the husband disapproves. So, I’m probably just going to steam some lovely green spring veggies (like asparagus, sugar snap peas, and haricots verts) and serve them with lemon. Simple is sometimes the best way to go.

You can also combine veggies with a starch and have spring risotto instead. Or, if you want something a little easier, a colorful pasta dish. But, I prefer to have new potatoes with the Vernal dinner, just oven-roasted and seasoned with rosemary. This will pair well with the main course, a flavorful lamp chop dish. Lamb is perfect for the Vernal Equinox, for the same reason it’s perfect for Imbolc: it’s one of the first meats of the season, a youthful symbol of fertility and vitality. The traditional pairing with roast lamb is mint jelly, but I have yet to find a recipe that works for me, so I’ll stick with the balsamic vinegar. If you can get hold of it, rabbit would make for a good Vernal Equinox meal, but as it’s not readily available to me, I don’t work with it at all. Ham is also a classic choice for the Vernal, but it’s also a dish that can be special all year round. For me, the first day of spring calls for lamb.

What about dessert? Say you’re not going the lemon poppy seed route. Try something with strawberries; they make for a wonderful close to a spring meal. Or if you have a variety of fruits and want to challenge yourself, a pavlova is a nice choice. Making it requires some patience, but if you’re having guests, it’ll definitely impress. And you can top it with whatever fruits you want, so you’re not stuck with any one kind.

And there you have it! The Vernal Equinox is one of my favorite holidays, partially because of the food and partially because of the rituals. I don’t do much egg hunting any more, but colorng eggs is still one of my favorite holiday traditions. Also, the Vernal falls around the time of my mother’s birthday, so it’s always a jolly day. Also, by this time, I’m ready for winter to finally be over with! This year, the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere is on March 20th. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t come to soon.

Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone! Enjoy the day, and blessed be!