The first day of spring is also known as the Vernal Equinox. Alban Eiler, which means, “Light of the Earth,” is one of the two days that night and day stand equal. The equinoxes and solstices were holy times of transition for the ancient Celts, a celebration of the miraculous balance of nature and life cycles of renewal.
The Spring Equinox is the mid-point of the waxing year. The spark of light that was born at the Winter Solstice has reached maturity. Today the light and dark are equal; from this day forward, the days grow longer than the nights. We have survived another Winter and are once more surrounded by the delights of Spring. It is a time for celebrating the greening of the Earth, and crops are typically sown at this time.
This is the time of full Dawn, and was the time of the festivals of the Grecian goddess, Eostre, and the Germanic Ostara, both goddesses of Dawn. Some believe that this is where we get the word “Easter”. Since the Spring Equinox is a time to celebrate fertility, and many cultures see eggs as a symbol of Life or the home of the soul, decorated eggs have been part of spring celebrations for centuries. The Vernal Equinox was celebrated long before the Celts, by the Megalithic people who lived in Britain before the Celts, the Romans and the Saxons. Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Ancient Mayans all celebrated the equinox, as did Native Americans. Ancient Persians called it NawRaz, their New Year’s Day.
A cluster of megalithic cairns from ancient times are scattered through the hills at Loughcrew, about 55 miles northwest of Dublin, Ireland. Loughcrew Cairn T is a passage tomb which is designed so that the light from the rising sun on the spring and summer equinoxes penetrates a long corridor and illuminates a backstone, which is decorated with astronomical symbols.
This year’s vernal equinox occurs on Wednesday, at exactly 11:02 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), or 7:02 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, ushering in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn for the Southern. The time of the equinox marks when the center of the sun shines down right on the equator.
After the equinox, the sun’s observed path through the sky will appear to creep north of the equator as the Earth orbits the sun. Thanks to our planet’s tilted axis, the Northern Hemisphere will be increasingly inclined toward the sun in the coming months, easing us into the warmer seasons.