For me- winter is beautiful, but it is also a time of stagnation both physically and spiritually. So when the temperature starts to rise and the sky opens up for the sun sometime around March, it feels as if life is also opening. It feels as if there is suddenly new life and new possibilities all around us. Which is exactly what the spring equinox is about.
Spiritually, the spring equinox is a time of rebirth, growth, and new beginnings. You may feel in the coming weeks, leading up to the equinox, a sense of living on the precipice of opportunity. There is a building of new, fresh, exciting, and creative energy that flows into the earth around us as we leave the stagnation of the winter season and head toward an inviting spring. It is a time of regeneration, hope, and abundance.
Scientifically, the spring equinox is described as the earth being perfectly situated so that the equator is directly facing the sun. If you were to stand at the equator for the day you could watch the sunrise and set in a continuous line directly above you. For a moment the earth is perfectly balanced.
Yet for thousands of years before we understood the science of it all, civilizations came together through their religion and spirituality to celebrate this change in the earth’s movement, the beginning of spring, and, for some, the beginning of their new year.
Celebrations in other countries and cultures:
In Japan, they celebrate with an event called Shunbun-No-Hi which was a part of a much longer celebration called Haru-No-Higan (three days before and after the equinox). This holiday was, and still is, religious in nature and is connected to Buddhism. In the past, celebration attendees were encouraged to use this holiday as a time for introspection to determine how best to reconnect, or stay connected, to their practice. Today, they use this time to connect with past loved ones (by cleaning their tombs and/or leaving offerings on their Buddhist altars - both of which follow deeply ritualistic orders and rules) and to deep clean their homes. It is thought of as a time to ‘wipe clean’ the past and look positively at the future.
In parts of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and many other countries they celebrate Nowruz (from the Persian language, literally meaning ‘new day’). This celebration has roots in many religions like Mithraism and Zoroastrianism and is thought to have begun as a celebration for a mythical King that saved the world from a never-ending harsh winter that was going to kill every living thing. Nowruz has been a sacred celebration for more than 2500 years. It is celebrated in a number of ways leading up to and on the day of. It’s common to ‘shake the house’ or deep clean, shop for new clothing for the new year, and purchase flowers like tulips and other spring-blooming flowers. They also prepare culturally traditional food and spend time or visit with relatives and friends.
In Hinduism, they celebrate with a popular festival called Holi. This celebration has also been around for thousands of years with ancient roots in mythology (a story of a King’s son who stayed true to the gods despite his father’s ego) and texts from earlier than the 7th century. Although this festival is about more than just the spring equinox, even the other themes of celebration follow suit. It is a celebration of love, color, spring, fresh starts, and playfulness. On the first night, they have rituals, pray, and banish the old and evil around a pyre (a sort of bonfire), and on the second day they celebrate good by throwing colors, dancing, eating, and other festivities followed by visiting family and friends.
The Spring Equinox is a great time to start fresh, begin new practices and habits, examine your life for areas you would like to change or improve, and celebrate life.
Ways you can join in the celebration
Spring Cleaning - ‘Out with the old’ leaves space for new fresh energy to circulate your home and by extension your life.
Start a new practice - take up something you’ve had on your list to try whether it be yoga, daily meditation, self-care, or a hobby you’re interested in.
Examine your religious or spiritual beliefs - take inspiration from Shunbun-No-Hi and check-in with how you incorporate your beliefs into your life, would you like to make changes?
Celebrate with friends and family - gather your loved ones around you to appreciate where you’re coming from and how you’re all moving forward together.
Make goals - many cultures viewed this time as the beginning of their year making it the perfect time to look forward and make goals for what you want to make of this year.