either of the two times each year (as about March 21 and September 23) when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are everywhere on earth of approximately equal length (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
The spring equinox is also known as the vernal equinox. Ver is a direct derivative of Latin (ver = spring). During my research, I read that scientists are getting away from calling it the vernal equinox and now referring to the spring equinox as the March equinox (and the fall, or autumnal equinox as the September equinox) since people in the Northern and Southern hemispheres experience spring, or autumnal, weather at opposite times.
A New Beginning by Wendy Pfeffer
The Spring Equinox by Ellen Jackson
We used the above books to begin our study of the spring equinox. I was impressed with the amount of information they provided. We learned how people all over the world have celebrated the Equinox throughout history and how some cultures celebrate it today. We borrowed a few ideas for our own celebration.No Ruz is the New Year in Iran that coincides with the equinox. No Ruz was celebrated in ancient Persia over 3,000 years ago. No Ruz is a thirteen day festival that starts a week before the equinox. The translation of No Ruz is New Day. We learned that they place seven items on the table that begin with the letter "S" (in the Persian language). They are used to express good fortune and happiness for the New Year. Here are the items we used:
5th candy shirini
6th rice pudding shir berenj
(we just had rice)
(we just had rice)
Ten days before No Ruz, they plant wheat in a flat dish, so we did too.
Our dinner was based on several cultures celebrations of the spring equinox. We had:
BERRIES from the Native Americans, specifically the Plains Cree, would perform ceremonies to celebrate the first berries of the season.PANCAKES from the Russian celebration, Maslenitsa (or Maslenita). This translates to Pancake Week, where the returning light was celebrated during a 7 day festival with the pancakes symbolizing the bright sun of spring.
MATZOH BREAD AND CHAROSET (a mix of apples, nuts and wine or grape juice) Jewish Passover celebrates a new beginning. Seder is celebrated on the first night of an eight day holiday and tells the story of how the Jewish people became free.
Here were some other facts we found interesting:
*In India they celebrate Holi on the night of the March full moon. They have bonfires that night that symbolize the heat of the summer and they bury the ashes in hopes of good crops. The next day, they pass each other in the street and throw multi colored water on one another. The kids were disappointed that it was raining during our celebration and we didn't get to do this (yet).
*In Chichen Itza, there is the El Castillo pyramid. The sun makes a shadow on the spring equinox that looks like a snake moving down the pyramid. At sunset, the shadow meets with a stone carving of a snake head at the bottom of the stairs and spring has begun. .
*The ancient Saxons of Germany celebrated the Goddess of springtime who was called Eostre. Her earthly symbol was a rabbit. Rabbits and eggs symbolized rebirth. The eggs were colored to represent the sun of spring.
*Easter Sunday is celebrated the first Sunday that falls after the full moon after the spring equinox.
The books I mentioned above provide a wealth of information on all sorts of spring celebrations and I recommend them highly!