Spring Fling: Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

the beginning of Spring

This year, the vernal equinox officially arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20, 2014, at 12:57 PM EDT. Literally, the word equinox translates to “equal night,” while vernal means, of course, spring. So around the entire world, day and night will be roughly the same length of time. (Not exactly the same, as science is quick to point out; because of the size of the sun and how the Earth’s atmosphere reflects sunlight, some points on the planet never experience a true equinox).

But for those of us who revel in all that is spring, just knowing it’s near can have a profound effect on the psyche. Especially this year, when winter has been brutal beyond belief in some areas, the replacement of so much darkness with light can propel us into a sort of mental rebirth. (Granted, the snow may still be around for a few more weeks, but just knowing that it is almost over can be enough to push us to the next level.)

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impending warm weather excitement

Even before Christianity existed, spring signified resurrection: of nature, of energy and of life itself. Rituals are plentiful across many cultures where spring is concerned; several of them dating back to a time when the onset of spring simply meant that the food supply would soon be replenished. Others link spring with religious festivals, such as Passover and Easter. (Something about the word “Easter” you may or may not want to bring up at church: Eastre was the ancient Germanic goddess of spring, worshipped by pagans, who still hold her festival on the Equinox under the name Ostara).

the pagan Spring holiday Ostara

At the very least, spring’s arrival feels like getting out of a sort of prison. Spotting the first robin is something we in the United States have adopted as a pastime that is absolutely loaded with significance. There’s nothing like the singing of birds, which rivals only the blooming of flowers as a herald of good things to come. Spring fashions are awash with vibrant color. We swap sweats for skirts. Beauty is everywhere we look, and even if all we see now are melting piles of snow and raindrops, we know they’ll soon give way to lush green lawns and unfolding leaves. So use this vernal equinox to celebrate all that is new again. Sow some seeds of kindness and joy – and watch as they bloom all year long!

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