How the Spring Equinox is Celebrated Around the World
18th March 2018 / 12 comments
Tuesday, March 20th is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The day is also referred to as the March or Vernal Equinox, and the Autumn/Fall Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. The Equinox is actually a specific point in time when the sun crosses the Equator moving north and is equidistant from the North and South poles. On Tuesday, it will occur at 4.15 pm.
The word Equinox comes from the Latin for ‘equal night’, and on this date, we will have roughly the same amount of day and nighttime. From this point, the days will begin to get longer and the nights shorter as we move towards the summer months.
The Spring Equinox is celebrated around the world in a number of different and unique ways. The changing of the seasons and the beginning of spring is very important in a number of different countries, religions and cultures. Here we look at how a few of those different groups celebrate this special day.
The most popular Equinox celebrations in the UK happen at Stonehenge. Every year, hundreds of people flock to the ancient monument to enjoy the sunrise and celebrate the possibilities that accompany the arrival of Spring.
The Equinox also ties in closely with Easter traditions in the UK, and so many of the celebrations become entwined. Aside from painting easter eggs in beautiful patterns, there’s also a tradition of trying to balance an egg upright on the day of the Equinox; people believe that the energy of the day helps keep the egg standing up.
In Russia, the celebration is called Maslenitsa and honours the return of light and warmth as we enter Spring. The celebration is marked by a folk festival which takes place approximately seven weeks before Easter, around the beginning of Lent.
During Lent, dairy products, meat and fish are prohibited, and so Maslenitsa is the last opportunity to enjoy these foods until the end of the holiday. During the festival, an effigy of the Lady of Maslenitsa is placed on a bonfire and burned, followed by the remaining food, and the fields are fertilised by the ashes.
The colourful Holi festival takes place in late February or early March and is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Traditionally a Hindu festival, it is now an experience that has spread throughout the world. South Korea also holds a Holi Hai festival in early March each year, in their seaside city of Busan.
The night before the festival, there are bonfires and parties as people celebrate the beginning of the new season. The next day, people gather en masse to partake in a giant colour fight, throwing coloured powder over each other. It is a fun and freeing tradition and helps people let go of their troubles and move on into the new seasons.
Shunbun no Hi is the name of the Equinox celebration in Japan, and the day is marked by people visiting the graves of their ancestors and reuniting with family. This festival is actually seven days long, culminating on the day of the Equinox, on which families clean their houses and leave flowers on the graves. After, families tuck into a delicious treat of botamochi, a sweet rice ball, mashed and wrapped in azuki bean paste.
Spring also brings the famous cherry blossoms, and so around this time, you will see many locals and tourists alike enjoying the beautiful sights and vivid colours.
In Mexico, the day is a celebration of the Return of the Sun Serpent, and modern-day festivities take place around the El Castillo pyramid. During the Equinox, the pyramid is cast in shadow by the late afternoon sun, creating an illusion that there is a huge snake moving down the side of it. Following the sunset, many people hold parties and eat traditional local delicacies.