“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” ~Henry Van Dyke
Today is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, the autumnal equinox in the southern. And the quote made me laugh because it is far from Spring-like here in New York City. It’s not exactly bitter winter, but there’s a cold wind and folks are still in winter gear!
Roughly speaking, as this isn’t an astronomy blog, at the equinox night and day are in equal balance. There have been holidays and celebrations around these two days for millennia.
For over a thousand years, Christians have been celebrating Easter in March, more or less, and Michaelmas in September. Easter is still with us, of course, but Michaelmas, not so much. Both holidays were co-opting the already existing pagan celebrations from parts of Europe. Modern pagans have revived both celebrations, but it’s Ostara, from the name of a Germanic goddess, they will celebrate today or tomorrow, the return of spring. It was a time for celebrating birth and fertility (there’s a reason why we give the kiddies Easter bunnies). But the Catholic Church also has a fixed holiday on March 25th, The Feast of the Annunciation, celebrating Mary conceiving Jesus. This is closer to the mythology of earlier faiths, when the goddess conceived the god at the equinox and gave birth at the winter solstice, nine months later.
Whether you’re celebrating Ostara, or the Annunciation, or are preparing for Easter or are just happy to see the end of winter, Happy Equinox to you! May this be a time when new things start to blossom and grow in your life.