Today is the First Day of Spring in 2024 - What You Should Know About the Vernal Equinox

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.19 - 2024 12:42 PM CET

Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
If you find yourself feeling particularly joyful today, there's a good reason for it. March 19th is officially the first day of spring, marking the day we experience the vernal equinox.

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As the calendar flips to March 19th, 2024, we welcome the first day of spring, a day marked by the vernal equinox. This astronomical event is a herald of warmer days, blooming flowers, and longer daylight hours. But what exactly is the vernal equinox, and why is it significant?

Let's delve into the details and answer some of the most common questions surrounding this springtime phenomenon.

What is the Vernal Equinox?

The vernal equinox is one of the two moments in the year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator, and day and night are of nearly equal length across the globe.

This equinox marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

The term "vernal" is derived from the Latin word for spring, reflecting the rejuvenation and renewal that this season brings.

Why Does the Vernal Equinox Happen?

The Earth orbits the sun at an angle, which is why we experience seasons. This tilt—approximately 23.5 degrees—means that different parts of the Earth receive more direct sunlight at different times of the year.

The vernal equinox occurs when the tilt of the Earth's axis and its orbit align in such a way that both hemispheres receive an equal amount of sunlight.

When Does the Vernal Equinox Occur?

While the date can vary slightly from year to year, due to the way our calendar aligns with the Earth's orbit around the Sun, the vernal equinox typically occurs on March 19th or 20th.

In 2024, this equinox falls on March 19th (today), officially ushering in the spring season at precisely 11:06 EDT.

What Does the Vernal Equinox Mean for Day and Night?

One of the most fascinating aspects of the vernal equinox is the nearly equal length of day and night.

The term "equinox" is derived from the Latin words "aequus," meaning equal, and "nox," meaning night.

This balance of light and darkness happens because the Earth's axis and its orbit around the Sun are in a position that allows sunlight to be distributed evenly between the northern and southern hemispheres.

How is the Vernal Equinox Celebrated Around the World?

The vernal equinox has been celebrated by various cultures throughout history, marking the occasion with festivals, rituals, and traditions.

In Japan, the equinox is part of a national holiday known as Shunbun no Hi, a day for commemorating ancestors and celebrating nature.

Meanwhile, in ancient times, the Mayans aligned their famous pyramid, El Castillo, in Chichen Itza, to cast a shadow in the shape of a serpent during the equinox, symbolizing the return of the serpent god Kukulkan.

What Can We Expect After the Vernal Equinox?

Following the vernal equinox, the Northern Hemisphere will enjoy progressively longer days and shorter nights until the summer solstice in June, when the day with the longest daylight occurs.

This period is characterized by warming temperatures, the blooming of flora, and the awakening of fauna from hibernation, offering a perfect opportunity to engage in outdoor activities and appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings.

As we step into spring 2024, let's embrace the longer days and the promise of new beginnings. Whether you're planning to start a garden, enjoy the outdoors, or simply take a moment to appreciate the changing seasons, the vernal equinox is a reminder of the Earth's incredible journey around the Sun and the constant change that is a part of our lives.

Remember, today is not just another day; it's a marker of transition and growth. Happy first day of spring 2024!

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