March 21st, 2014
Are the birds singing more in your neighborhood? Today’s the official first day of Spring (regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil prognosticated).
It’s officially called the Vernal Equinox. Vernal is Latin for Spring and Equinox means “equal night.” Today we have twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night.
For the astronomers out there, today is one of two days of the year when the sun rises exactly due East and sets exactly due West. If you were standing directly on the equator, you would see the sun pass directly overhead.
The ancients built the structures around the equinoxes. The Sphinx in Egypt points directly due East. Stonehenge in England has some of it’s stones aligned due East as well. And in the Mexican state of Yucatan, Chichén Itza was built to align with the sun’s movements.
The reason it was such an important day is that in the agrarian cultures, it marked when it was time to start planting crops (at least in the Northern hemisphere).
The Persian calendar starts each year on the Vernal Equinox. (so happy new year, to the Persians!)
The Indian National Calendar starts the year on the day next to the Vernal Equinox on March 22 (March 21 in leap years) with a 30-day month (31 days in leap years), then has 5 months of 31 days followed by 6 months of 30 days. (so happy new year to the Indians!)
Per ancient superstitions, today’s the only day of the year where you can stand a raw egg on it’s end. Some believe it’s impossible to ever stand an egg on end, others believe it is possible regardless of the year. There are probably Youtube videos out there teaching you how to do it, and if you were a prankster, you could figure it out and balance the egg at dinner time impressing and amazing your family.
In Annapolis, Maryland in the United States, boatyard employees and sailboat owners celebrate the spring equinox with the Burning Of The Socks festival. Traditionally, the boating community wears socks only during the winter. These are burned at the approach of warmer weather, which brings more customers and work to the area. Officially, nobody then wears socks until the next equinox.
Today is also World Storytelling Day. Started in Sweden in the early 90s. And while that particular group no longer run the national “Alla berättares dag” (All storytellers day), other countries and groups have picked up the idea and ran with it. Each year, there is a theme, and this year is Fortune and Fate.
What will you be doing today to honor Spring?