The Spring Equinox is Here!
It’s finally happening, the day that many of us have been anxiously awaiting since the holidays. Monday, March 20th, 2017 signals the Spring Equinox, and with it the first official day of spring! Technically, the moment of the equinox will be 6:28 a.m. for the Northern Hemisphere. Finally, we can have justification for all of the warm temperatures and rain that has been present in our lives over the past couple of weeks.
What exactly is an equinox? An equinox occurs when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of the day and the night are seemingly equal. The March equinox marks the moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator- the imaginary line in the sky above the earth’s equator.
While meteorologically spring begins much earlier than the equinox (it starts on March first and runs through May thirty-first), the equinox itself signals a lot of great things. After the occurrence of the equinox there will be increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets.
The equinox may not fall on the same day every year. It may also occur on March 21st due to a problem with our calendar setup. Sometimes it takes the earth an extra 0.256 days to go around the sun, throwing off the equinox day. Not to worry though, with the arrival of the equinox comes warmer weather, except for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere. The arrival of the March equinox signals fall for them.
Did you know that the date of the equinox also effects the date of Easter every year? The date of Easter is set for the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox. This year that means that Easter will fall later than normal. Easter this year is Sunday, April 16, 2017.
The tracking of the equinox is not something that is new. For millenia people have been fascinated with watching the rotation and progression of the sun. Ancient peoples used to watch the sun and the progression of the equinoxes’ to know when to hunt and plant. Today, the equinox is still celebrated around the world by various cultures, with many holidays having be set around the event. For example, people celebrate the equinox by bringing out Easter eggs and trying to balance them. This goes back to an ancient Chinese tradition. The balancing of the eggs symbolize good luck and prosperity for those who can make it work.
The day also rings in the Iranian New Year for those in the Middle East. In Japan people go about the ceremonies and services of remembering their loved ones. Back in the United States people also celebrate March 20th as Earth Day. Millions celebrate by participating in recycling and cleanup programs to better help their communities and the earth in general.
Spring is officially in the air. With the arrival of the equinox we are reminded that life is beginning again and many of us can finally see the light at the end of the long tunnel that is winter. Celebrate this time of the year by spending time out in nature and enjoying the simple blessings that life brings.