Vernal Equinox, from the Latin aequinoctium, aequus (equal) and nox (night), was March 20th this year in 2016. It marks the beginning of astronomical spring, which is when the position of the Earth and Sun, results in (almost) equal daylight and darkness.
This position occurs twice each year, once in the spring and once in the fall when the plane of the Earth’s equator crosses the middle of the sun.
Happy (spring) Vernal Equinox!
Equinox versus Solstice
The equinox is often confused with the solstices. The solstices, which also occur twice each year, once in the summer and once in the winter, result in the longest and shortest days in terms of daylight, respectively.
The solstices signify the maximum and minimum whereas the equinox, being halfway between the solstices, represents balance. Together, the equinoxes and solstices mark the transition points between the four seasons.
While the winter solstice day signifies a period of introspection, a rebirth of the sun from its winter darkness, the vernal equinox signifies the rebirth of the earth, a resurrection into the beginning of the time for growth, renewal, fertility, and birth. It is the beginning of spring. Yes!
Spiritual Background of Vernal Equinox
The (Spring) Vernal Equinox has been celebrated all over the world by different cultures for thousands of years. For over 3,000 years, the Persians have celebrated the spring equinox as the beginning of their new year.
For Buddhists in Japan, the celebration is called Higan, which is a time of reflection on one’s efforts to reach Nirvana or “the other shore.” The Hindu of Bali calls the day the Nyepi, which is a time to purge evil and silently exercise control over the self and spirit.
Christian Association with Vernal Equinox
Closer to home, the Spring Equinox announces the coming of Easter. This celebration is central to the Christian faith as it recognizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his sacrificial death.
Easter is tied to the celestial spring as it is always the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
Whatever of your faith or traditions, the spring equinox is a time to honor these connections to the past, the earth, heavens, the self, and of course, each other. A perfect time for a Spring soul cleanse. Happy Spring!