This year, Spring begins at 7:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time in the United States.Vernal is from the Latin ver meaning Spring. The word equinox derives from the Latin aequi, or equal, and nox, or night, indicating that the days and nights are more or less equal in length (source: Oxford English Dictionary).
The date of the Spring Equinox is significant in Christianity because Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the equinox. The celebration of Easter, incidentally, is believed by some to be based upon the Anglo-Saxon Pagan festivals honoring the goddess Eostre or Ostara. Those festivals included rabbits and colored eggs, both symbols of fertility and rebirth.
The Great Sphinx in Egypt was built pointing toward the rising Sun on the day of the Vernal Equinox, and a festival honoring Isis was held around this time.
At El Castillo (“the castle”), also know as the Pyramid of Kukulkan, in Mexico, thousands gather each year to watch a “snake” (formed by the light and shadow caused by the setting sun) undulate down the stairway of the 79-foot pyramid.
In Japan, the vernal equinox is a national holiday, signifying both a celebration of the coming of the growing season as well as a day for Japanese citizens to visit their family tombs and pay respects to their ancestors.
This date also marks the beginning of the Persian New Year festival, Nowruz, the celebration of which lasts for 13 days and finds its roots in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zoroastrianism.