As Spring Equinox 2021 approaches, the natural world begins to shift and change, and while you’ll likely notice signs of new life and longer days, you may find yourself asking “what is the Spring Equinox?” This natural occurrence has been observed and celebrated for centuries through different Spring Equinox rituals, traditions, and celebrations. Today, science allows us to pinpoint the exact minute when the equinox will occur.
The earth naturally sits at a 23.5° tilt, and twice a year, this angle is parallel to the sun with neither pole leaning more towards it than the other. This event, known as the equinox, is approximately a 12-hour day around the world, and it occurs in both the fall and the spring. After the Spring Equinox, the north pole will begin to tilt more towards the sun, creating longer days and bringing warmer weather to the northern hemisphere. As scientists have studied the Spring Equinox, they’ve been able to pinpoint the exact minute that the earth’s tilt will reach this point. Spring equinox 2021 will occur precisely at 5:37 a.m. EDT on Saturday, March 20.
Ancient Mexican Spring Equinox rituals took place at pyramids, and at Chichen Itza, the Mayan civilization noticed that when the sun set directly in the west, the stairs of the pyramid would resemble a moving snake. At other pyramids, people would gather at the top to be closer to the heavens. Today, indigenous groups will still gather at these sites for a Spring Equinox celebration.
India’s Holi festival is a colorful celebration of the arrival of spring. All day long, people take to the streets and parks with dry dyes and colored water, throwing it at neighbors, friends, and passerbys, painting them with bright colors. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, old or young, Holi is a joyful community celebration for the arrival of spring.
The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling is an unusual and even dangerous tradition. At this competition in England, a roll of cheese is given a one-second head start in a race down Cooper’s Hill. Participants race to catch the cheese and be the first to the bottom. The winner gets to keep the wheel of cheese, and while it may be a silly competition, it’s a fun way to kick off spring.
The Japanese Spring Equinox rituals traditions center around honoring ancestors. When the day is balanced between dark and light on the equinox, it’s believed that the Buddah can help souls cross into Nirvana. Shunbun no Hi is a day when families clean off grave sites and offer flowers and food to ancestors.
As the Spring Equinox 2021 approaches, you’ll see signs of new life all through the natural world, and for centuries, the anticipation of warmer weather and longer days has caused cultures around the world to celebrate. On March 20, spend your day outside enjoying the longer day and warmer weather.