Many think that the spring equinox is just the beginning of spring, but it happens to be a lot more.
The word equinox is derived from Latin and means ‘equal night’. During the spring equinox, also known as the vernal equinox, the sun is positioned above the equator which provides most of the world with equal hours of day and night.
The spring equinox this year takes place on March 20, at approximately 9:57 a.m.
People in the southern hemisphere refer to this astronomical event as the autumnal equinox since it’s the beginning of their fall season.
This only happens twice a year because of the 23.4 degree tilt of the Earth; if the earth wasn’t tilted, there would be no variation in day lengths or temperatures, therefore no seasons.
The spring equinox is accompanied by many rituals and traditions around the world that have been celebrated for thousands of years. In the past, people celebrated the spring equinox because it was a sign that food supplies would soon be restored.
According to timeanddate.com, one of the most famous ancient spring equinox celebrations was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.
Another celebration, which finds its roots in Christianity, is Easter. Every year it lands on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
The Great Sphinx in Egypt points directly toward the direction the sun will raise during the spring equinox.
The Persian New Year coincides with the spring equinox and lasts 13 days.
According to environment.about.com, if a person were standing on the equator during either the vernal or autumnal equinox, he or she would see the sun pass directly overhead, the only two times in the year when that can occur.
During the equinoxes, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west instead of the typical pattern, in which the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.
The beginning of spring isn’t just a sign that we are closer to summer.
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