Posted by: Jack Henry | March 23, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Vernal Equinox

Happy belated vernal equinox! Monday marked the official day, but we’re only a couple of days off, so there’s still plenty of time to celebrate.

But what is an equinox, why do people celebrate it, and what are they celebrating?

The equinox happens twice each year when the amount of daylight and nighttime are about equal in length. The first equinox (the vernal or spring equinox) occurs around March 21 (the date can vary slightly). It doesn’t only represent the first day of spring, it is symbolic of rebirth and fertility. The autumnal equinox occurs, you guessed it, at the beginning of autumn, around September 21 and it is has long been considered a time to give thanks for a plentiful harvest.

According to, “…an equinox doesn’t last for a full 24 hours. Technically speaking, an equinox is one of the two specific moments in time when the sun is exactly above the celestial equator…the word equinox comes from the Latin aequinoctium, meaning ‘the time of equal days and nights,’ from equi-, meaning ‘equal,’ and nocti-, meaning ‘night.’”

The equinox has been celebrated by many different cultures for centuries. According to, the Mayan people used to “…publicly gather on the equinox to watch the sun make shadows against the Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo. The shadows are said to resemble a large, moving snake that descends down the pyramid throughout the afternoon as the sun moves.”

The vernal equinox is still celebrated as a secular holiday around the world. In Japan it has been a national holiday called Shunbun no Hi since 1948. says, “People celebrate by cleaning their homes to signify a new start or rebirth, visiting their childhood homes, and/or visiting and cleaning off the gravesites of their beloved departed.”

In Iran, this secular holiday is known as Nowruz, or the Iranian or Persian New Year. It marks the first day of the month, known as Farvardin, on the Iranian calendar. The celebrations last 13 days, and people often celebrate by jumping over a bonfire or by lighting fireworks.

Likewise, the autumnal equinox is still celebrated in many countries. An article called The Coolest Fall Equinox Traditions from Around the Worldsays that in Lithuania, they celebrate with markets that sell products of the latest harvest. In China and Vietnam, they celebrate the abundance of the summer harvest.

These days, most people think of the vernal equinox as the beginning of spring: tulips and daffodils are blooming, the rain is falling, the weather is slowly warming up. That’s plenty to celebrate. Happy spring!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

Symitar Documentation Services

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