The Spring (or Vernal) Equinox occurs in March. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Twice a year, the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north and the earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally. Night and day are approximately equal in length, but are exactly equal in length at the equator–where the sun is directly overhead at noon on each equinox. The next day, the days get longer (Vernal Equinox) or shorter (Autumnal Equinox). This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23, respectively. Traditionally, the equinox marks the beginning of Spring or Fall.
The equinox has been recognized for thousands of years. The early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox. In Japan, a week of Buddhist services, the Higan, recognizes each equinox. The Iranian new year is celebrated during the March equinox. It’s also World Storytelling Day and World Citizen Day. Many Middle Eastern countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the Vernal Equinox and at Chichén Itzá in Mexico, the sun creates the illusion of a snake winding down the steps of the El Castillo pyramid on each equinox.
This year, the March equinox will happen all over the world at exactly 6:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time on March 20!