The spring equinox and the first day of spring are celebrated around the world as a time of fresh beginnings and new life.
People in many parts of the U.S. look forward to this part of March for signs of winter ending. Here in Arizona, the dates arrive during some of our most perfect weather.
The 2021 spring equinox is just around the corner, and we have answers to common questions about when it is, why it happens and what it signifies. We also have fun suggestions for how you can celebrate the arrival of spring in metro Phoenix
Here’s what we know about the 2021 spring equinox and first day of spring.
What is the equinox?
The vernal equinox in March marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. The autumnal equinox in September marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall.
The word equinox is derived from the Latin word aequus, which means equal, and nox, which means night.
Here’s how the equinox works: On the day in March and September when the sun passes exactly over the equator, the length of day and night are virtually equal. Nearly every part of the Earth except the North and South Pole receives 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
When is the 2021 spring equinox?
The spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere will occur at 2:37 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Saturday, March 20. The autumnal equinox happens at 12:20 p.m. MST on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
What’s the difference between equinox and solstice?
The equinoxes are the two days each year that have nearly equal amounts of day and night as the sun passes over the equator. The solstices are the two days when the sun’s path is farthest from the equator, causing the greatest difference in the amount of sunlight.
There are two solstices. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice, which happens on June 20 or 21, is considered the longest day of the year in terms of sunlight. The winter solstice, which occurs on Dec. 21 or 22, is the shortest day of the year.
What the spring equinox signifies
In many cultures, the vernal equinox marks a time of new beginnings and a bountiful spring harvest. A public holiday in Japan, the spring equinox is a celebration of family, nature and all living things.
In Mexico, one way the equinox is observed is by welcoming the sun serpent at El Castillo temple, which honors the serpent god Kukulkan in Chichén Itzá. The sun casts a shadow down the pyramid steps, appearing as a slithering serpent.
This day of rebirth also marks the first day of the new year in India, Turkey, Iran and other countries.
Ways to celebrate the equinox and first day of spring
Connect with nature: Spend some time outdoors. Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior and the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix are great places to experience the signs of a blossoming spring and learn about plants, flowers and trees.
Japanese Friendship Garden:How to explore this Phoenix hidden gem
Plant a tree or a garden: Don’t know where to start? Visit the Maricopa Cooperative Extension website. This service of the University of Arizona offers resources to set up home and school gardens. You can even ask a master gardener for help through weekly online Q&A sessions. Want to read more on what grows in Phoenix and interact with a community of gardeners? Visit https://www.phxgardening.com. It’s full of how-tos and resources.
Want to start a garden? Here’s what metro Phoenix experts say you need to know
Visit a farmers market: If you’d rather buy your veggies than grow them, enjoy the sunshine and check out Arizona produce vendors’ harvests at one of the many farmers markets throughout metro Phoenix.
Take your pick:Here are 22 Phoenix-area farmers markets
Make art or visit a museum: Ready to freshen up your house with some colorful artwork or learn a new artistic skill? Burst of Butterflies in Chandler and Cactus Kids Art Studio and Sunshine Craft Co in Phoenix are among the local shops that offer DIY craft kits you can order online. Learn some history and see world-class art exhibitions at the same time by visiting the Phoenix Art Museum or Heard Museum. Check their COVID-19 policies online before you go.
Clean house: A good spring cleaning is said to bring fresh energy inside your home, and some even say it’s lucky. According to the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, you can bring balance, harmony and ease to your home by the way you organize your space. Feng shui is said to bring positive chi, or energy, into your home, relationships and finances. Learn more about feng shui at fengshuitrainingcenter.com.
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