On March 20, 2006, at precisely 18:26 GMT, the Sun crossed directly over the Earth’s equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox. A date that most of us recognize as symbolic of changing seasons.
Equinox Means "Equal Night" and because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes. These moments owe their significance to the 23.4 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis. Because of the tilt, we receive the Sun’s rays most directly in the summer. In the winter, when we are tilted away from the Sun, the rays pass through the atmosphere at a greater slant, bringing lower temperatures. If the Earth rotated on an axis perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, there would be no variation in day lengths or temperatures throughout the year, and we would not have the seasons that people have recognised for thousands of years. There is no shortage of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of spring. Many early peoples celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It is also probably no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox. The first day of spring also marks the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism.
In England our clocks will "spring" forward 1 hour this coming Sunday, March 26th.
For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.
A E Housman (1859–1936)
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers:
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
Robert Herrick ( 1591 – 1694)
The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.
Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471)
O! how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day!
Wm Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
T S Elliot ( 1888 – 1965)
Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers.
Thomas Tusser (1524 – 1580)
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Tennyson (1809 – 1892)
Spring….when a young mans fancy turns to – what the girls have been thinking about all winter.