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All About the Spring Equinox

tulips in the sun on spring equinox

We all know and love spring. It’s a time when the sun splashes its warm rays, birds sing their sweetest songs, and flowers bloom their brightest petals. We’re beckoned outside by feelings of warmth, comfort, and happiness. But how and when does spring come to be? What is the spring equinox? And what’s the difference between it and the first day of spring?

Read on to learn about the spring equinox significance, what it means, and when to expect the season’s wonderful bounty.

What is the Spring Equinox?

The spring equinox, also called the March equinox and vernal equinox, is when the sun is directly over Earth’s equator, allowing both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to get equal amounts of sunlight.

What Happens During the Spring Equinox?

Because our planet travels around the sun at an angle, the sun’s warmth, light, and power affect the Earth’s northern and southern halves unequally for most of the year. During the spring equinox, Earth’s axis is tilted just right as it goes from north to south, and the sun is directly overhead of the equator, and both hemispheres get to see the same amount of sun.

More sun means you need more sunscreen. Check out “The 4-1-1 on Sunscreen SPFs & UV Protection” for tips on how to block the blaze.

What Does Equinox Mean?

The word equinox is derived from two Latin words: aequus, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night. Therefore, on the day of the equinox, everyone in the world receives nearly equal parts day and night, about 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime.

When is the Spring Equinox 2024?

Not to be confused with the meteorological start of the season, which happens on March 1, the spring equinox marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. The date of the spring equinox shifts year to year, and while it typically lands on March 20 or 21, it will occur at 11:06 p.m. Eastern Time on March 19, 2024. Even though people across the world live in different time zones, the equinox happens at the exact same moment for everyone worldwide.

What is the Spring Equinox Significance?

The spring equinox signifies the astronomical start of a new season. And it means that many parts of the world will experience more sunlight during a 24-hour period up until the summer solstice in June. A way to track the changing season for ancient civilizations, many cultures honored the sun’s presence on this remarkable day with celebrations at famed monuments like England’s Stonehenge and Mexico’s Chichen Itza.

Mexico also hosts one of the happiest cities in North America. Learn more about it in our article, “7 of the Happiest Cities to Visit in North America.”

How to Celebrate the Spring Equinox

You don’t have to go to the world’s prehistoric monuments to celebrate the first day of spring. There are plenty of things you can do right at home to recognize the day. Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate the spring equinox.

Balance a raw egg on its end. Thanks to old Chinese folklore, some believe that the gravitational pull from the sun on the day of the spring equinox can cause an egg—situated on a flat surface—to stand upright. A cool experiment, test a raw egg on a table and try to balance it upright. Let go, and watch it stand on its own!

Get out, play, and revel in all the goodness the spring equinox brings. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining, creating the perfect opportunity to get outside for family fun, like picking in-season flowers, renting a canoe or paddle boat, or making a birdhouse.

Refresh your space. To mark the beginning of a new season, many make it a ritual to spring clean their house. Clear your space from the dust and clutter of winter and revitalize your home with polished surfaces, gleaming floors, organized closets, and laundered fabrics.  

Taste the flavors of the season. Head to your local farmer’s market and look for fresh fruits and vegetables ripe with flavor this time of year. Some of nature’s best delicacies to try now include apples, avocadoes, lettuce, limes, strawberries, peas, broccoli, carrots, apricots, and pineapple.

child and parent holding earth made of clay

Get Excited About the Earth

Now that we’ve answered what is the spring equinox, including what the equinox means and the spring equinox significance, we want to stress the importance of recognizing and celebrating our beautiful planet. With Earth Day just around the corner, check out our Earth Day article to learn more about the holiday and some enjoyable Earth Day activities for kids.