a.k.a. Northward equinox, vernal equinox, and autumnal equinox
Can you sense it? The shift in the winds, the smell of the air, the singing of the birds? Our friends in the southern hemisphere will hear the crunching of leaves under their feet instead. The March equinox brings the changing of the seasons to the world.
What is the March Equinox?
Here, it’s often called the first official day of spring, but the March equinox is actually not an entire day. It’s a moment in time when the rays of the sun are directly over the earth’s equator creating an event where nox, or “night” is aequus “equal” to the day worldwide. And this year, it’s on March 20, 2019 at 5:58 P.M. EDT. There will be just as much shadow across the world as there is light which has us feeling this yin-yang situation for the occasion.
The Equinox happens twice a year.
In March, while we in the northern hemisphere experience the vernal or “spring” equinox, our southern neighbours will have their autumnal or “fall” equinox. And just the same, in September, we flip the script with the north having our fall equinox and the south with their spring. It’s all because of the lean of the axis or in the case of the equinoxes, the lack of lean.
The Spring Equinox is special.
For many cultures, springtime is a time of renewal and birth. Spring festivals are held all around the world and there is evidence of cultural traditions that go back to ancient times. More recently, though -- as in the last three-thousand years (give or take a thousand) -- spring has given significance to religious traditions like Easter and Passover.
Each year, Easter Sunday is established as the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. (More on the full moon later.) And Passover is designated on the Hebrew calendar to occur around the spring equinox. Non-religious traditions include spending the week of the equinox with family (Japan), celebrating the coming of the traditional new year or Nowruz (Iran, India, Turkey), or even Mother’s Day because moms are the ultimate symbol of birth (Egypt, Iraq, Syria).
This March Equinox is extraordinary.
There’s something special about this year’s March equinox — it’s the first time almost 40 years that the March equinox coincides with the Super Worm Moon in the northern hemisphere. The first full moon in March is named the Worm Moon because the warming of the seasons thaws the soils, drawing out the worms — another signifier of spring. This Worm Moon, however, is the last of three supermoons to grace our skies since the beginning of the year and it joins us at the same moment as the March equinox. The last supermoon of the year and until March 2020, the Equinox Super Worm Moon hails in the warmth of spring and the awakening of nature from its winter sleep.
Goodbye to extreme temperatures.
No matter where you are on this planet, you can say “goodbye” to the dead heat of summer or the frigid winds of winter. March equinox promises the freshness of spring or the coziness of fall. Enjoy!