Spring is a special time for Roman Catholics, even for the non-practising Catholics like this former altar boy.
March 2013 will be unlike any other spring before it for all Catholics as the cardinals gather to pick a new pope while Benedict XVI is still alive, bearing his new title of "emeritus pope."
The 85-year-old Benedict shocked everyone in January with news of his retirement, choosing Feb. 28 as the precise day he would give up the office he held for seven years.
But he obviously chose that date with an eye on the calendar.
While Benedict threw tradition out the window with his retirement, tradition still remains at the core of the Catholic faith. One of those traditions is that the cardinals must lock themselves away in the Sistine Chapel at some point over the next 20 days and they must not emerge until they have picked one of their own as the new leader of the church.
That means there will be a new pope in place just in time for Palm Sunday on March 24. Palm Sunday is the beginning of the holiest week on the Christian calendar, leading up to Good Friday, the holiday honouring Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross for the sins of mankind, and then Easter, Christ's rising from the dead.
Specifically, Palm Sunday marks the return of Jesus to Jerusalem, where crowds greeted him as the Messiah by laying palms on the ground in front of him, a green carpet instead of a red one if you must be cheeky about it.
Similar crowds will gather outside of the Vatican later this month, once the cardinals, also called "the princes of the church," are sequestered away. The crowds in St. Peter's Square and Catholics all over the world will be watching the chimney of the chapel. A two-third majority vote by secret ballot is required to name a new pope. If that majority is not reached, black smoke will come from the chimney after each vote. When white smoke will finally puff out from the chimney, it will mean a new pope has been successfully chosen.
The Easter season for Catholics is about renewal and rebirth, matching the change of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere from the cruelty of winter to the warmth and growth of spring. During this season of Lent, individual Catholics are urged to revitalize their faith in God and the teachings of Christ.
But this year, Easter will be a dual celebration for Catholics, as they celebrate both the naming of a new spiritual leader here on Earth, as well as the divinity of their Saviour in heaven.