Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Spring or Vernal Equinox by Carol King

The first day of Spring brings joy to every gardener’s heart marking the beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. 

It is the unofficial opening of the new gardening season and regardless of the weather, we’re ready! Spring arrives here along the Front Range of Colorado on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 4:29 am MDT .

There are two equinoxes every year –  March and September – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length night and day are nearly equal.  (These are not to be confused with the soltice which also occurs twice each year in June and December when the sun is at its closest or furtherest point from the equator.)  The March equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens on March 19, 20 or 21 every year.
This  is called an “equinox”, from Latin (aequinoctium), meaning "equal night” and vernal (vernalis), meaning “spring”.  In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight, but close enough.

While astronomers and scientists and most of us use the dates of equinoxes and solstices to mark the beginning and end of seasons in a year, there are others who do not:

•People in Australia and New Zealand for example, consider September 1 as the beginning of spring.
•The Irish, on the other hand, begin spring on February 1 when they celebrate St Brigid's Day. 
•Some cultures, especially those in South Asia have calendars that divide the year into 6 seasons, instead of the 4 that most of us are familiar with.

Many religious and cultural celebrations are associated with the Vernal Equinox. They include:  Christian Easter celebration; Iranian New Year;  Japanese Higa ; Judaism’s Passover; and the Pagan, Ostara. Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and others celebrate Mother’s Day on the the vernal equinox. For Native Americans, the cycle of the seasons was—and often still is—recognized and celebrated with ceremonies. These ceremonies are a way of obtaining and maintaining harmony with the natural world. 

And so Dear Gardener, I leave you with this thought on this Vernal Equinox:

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. 
Margaret Atwood

Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!