Back in December we talked about the meaning and the history of the Winter Solstice. This was a time of celebration and reflection in many cultures even before our own holiday traditions existed. The Romans celebrated many seasonal festivals, some of the most important being celebrated surrounding the Solstice.
While we just experienced a long and brutal Winter, we are approaching another annual milestone, the Vernal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox has long been a celebrated time as is ushers in Spring and the end of Winter. Since ancient times, it has marked a period of rebirth, but what exactly does it mean?
In terms of astronomy, the Vernal Equinox is signified by the direct crossing of the sun over our equator. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Vernal Equinox while in the Southern Hemisphere this marks the Autumnal Equinox. These are of course reversed depending on the season. The change in seasons is due to the tilt of the Earth and the Equinox is the beginning of the tilt which allows more direct sunlight to hit the Earth.
In addition to, or perhaps because of its astronomical significance, the Vernal Equinox has historically been a time of ritual celebration across cultures. Even the date of Easter is influenced by pagan rituals that fell on or around the Equinox. Easter in Christianity is marked by the Sunday which follows the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. It is no coincidence that the most important Christian holiday falls around this time of year and is largely about rebirth.
This is of course no just a Christian phenomenon. The Great Sphinx built in ancient Egypt points directly at the sun on the Vernal Equinox. The Persian new year also begins on the Vernal Equinox. It is a 13 day holiday which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in the Zoroastrian faith.
Astronomical events like the Equinox and the Solstice are seemingly worldwide causes for revelry. They are also a time to look forward to the future. This year try spending the Vernal Equinox getting in touch with the greater world around you and thinking about your own personal rebirth.
For more information about the Vernal Equinox, visit infoplease.