Spring starts with the vernal equinox, but what exactly is it? An equinox is when the sun is positioned directly above the Earth’s equator and the hours of daylight and nighttime are very nearly equal. It happens twice a year, spring and autumn. It’s generally accepted the vernal equinox is March 21 when the sun crosses the equator from south to north, but its iffier than you think. Sometimes it hits on the 20th and, of course, spring only comes to the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere heads toward winter. Earth thinks it’s oh-so-special but every planet in the solar system has an equinox, which occurs when a planet’s orbit and tilt causes hemispheres to receive the same amount of light.
Although the equinox is thought of as a day, it’s actually only a moment when the Sun passes over the equator. For 2022, the Vernal Equinox happened on Thursday, March 20, 2022, at 11:33 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. This is not to say the first day of spring is set in stone. Bands of rogue climatologists roam the streets arguing the point. For them, meteorological seasons are grouped by months and based on weather and temperature shifts. They’ll argue the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere should be March 1. Don’t get in their way or they’ll slap you.
Spring is associated with an array of rituals marking the end of winter, often dealing with death and rebirth. The idea of a deity who perishes and is brought back to life is an ancient theme, predating the Bible. Easter, supposedly, derives its name from Eostre, the ancient Teutonic goddess of fertility, bringing light and renewal to the world. Eggs were hidden in her honor as part of fertility rites and, as she was also a moon goddess, her celebrations were held at the full moon closest to the Equinox. Eostre was symbolized by a hare, and by the 17th century in Protestant Europe hares were also symbolic of Easter.
Weird stuff about the vernal equinox
It’s the only day you can stand a raw egg on end.
Presumably, because of the Sun’s position in the sky, the gravitational pull on the Earth means that you can stand an egg up on end during the precise moment of the vernal equinox. Nope. The Earth’s gravity remains unchanged and balancing an egg can be done any day of the year, if you’re really, really, really bored.
Egad! There’s no shadow at noon.
Only if you happen to be standing exactly on the equator.
Being outside during the vernal equinox can drive you bonkers.
The Sun moving across the equator has no effect on emotions. But Seasonal Affective Disorder plays a part in moods and may have a leftover effect before spring truly kicks in. The warmer days can also bring a touch of spring fever and strengthen the desire to get outdoors. Not to mention being cooped up because of Covid made us all a little nuts.
Take a trip to the gateway to hell.
Several myths have certain days in which a portal to hell can open and the devil can enter the earth. One is Halloween, but the other is the vernal equinox. A cemetery in the town of Stull, Kansas, apparently has one of them. Since the 1970s, people visiting the cemetery on the vernal equinox report hearing disembodied growling, being grabbed by unseen arms, and experiencing amnesia. No reports on the number of liquor sales on that day is available.
So put that garland of flowers in your hair and dance around the maypole before that blooming botanical mess activates your allergies. Spring has sprung.