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Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Tomorrow morning at 11:02 Universal Time (that’s 6:02 a.m. here in frosty Minneapolis), the sun will appear in the sky directly above the equator, and all over the world, people will celebrate the spring equinox.

We humans are biological beings, as well as spiritual ones, and are deeply affected by the sun and the changing seasons—even in these days of central heating and 24/7 artificial light. Human cultures everywhere celebrate the apparent movement of the sun in the sky, and the equinox is imbued with sacred symbolism.

According to some sources, it was at the spring equinox that the ancient Egyptian god Osiris rose from the dead. The Great Sphinx of Giza looks straight at the rising sun exactly two days a year: at the spring and autumn equinoxes. The equinoxes also serve as alignment points for the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza is amazingly designed so that shadows cast by the sun at the equinox seem to show the emergence of Queztlcoatl, the feathered serpent deity.

Easter and Passover both betray their pagan roots in the timing of spring holy days. Passover begins on the first day of the Hebrew month of Nisan—which just happens to be the first full moon after the March equinox, and Christians simply moved the date to the following Sunday to celebrate Easter. Hindus also celebrate on the full moon after the equinox, at the colorful spring festival of Holi.

It’s not hard to see why this symbolism emerged all over the world. The sun is halfway on its journey from south to north. We stand at the threshold between the sparseness and dark of winter and the abundance and radiance of spring. From our standpoint on Earth, the Universe seems to be in balance. We’ve just been through months of quiet, stasis, and stillness, a time to stay indoors and withdraw into ourselves. We’re now entering a time of activity and energy, when we'll head for lakes and beaches. The snow will melt. Blossoms will bloom soon, local fruits will ripen.

Even if you don’t take part in traditional religious ceremonies and aren’t a follower of the ancient deities, you can still celebrate the equinox. Have a party! Decorate your house! Write a poem! Write a song! Make a special dinner! Drink wine! Ring bells! Honor the sun!

Here on the tundra, the temperature tomorrow morning will be 1 degree—yes 1 degreefahrenheit—and we have a thick blanket of new snow on the ground. So, to get myself in the mood for spring in these frigid days, I’m checking out the videos I've posted here and listening to some equinox music.

Have a Happy Equinox, and let me know how you are celebrating!


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World Storytelling Day

I was reminded that, in Japan, spring equinox is a public holiday when the custom is for people to remember their ancestors and visit the family grave to clean the gravestone and weed and offer prayers and flowers. In Scandinavia, March 20th is my name day (!) and it turns out that it's also World Storytelling Day in the northern hemisphere... but I didn't do anything special having just learned about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Storytelling_Day   This year's theme was Fortune and Fate and, last night, I was watching Hunger, a film about Bobby Sands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Sands and the 1981 hunger strike.  Maybe that counts retrospectively as a meaningful coincidence...

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That's fascinating, Kim! I

That's fascinating, Kim! I had no idea there was such a thing as World Storytelling Day, either. And yes, I'd definitely call those meaningful coincidences. Thanks for enlightening me!


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Spring Equinox

You have marvelously captured the brilliance and hope of this day! My children have been delighted, eagerly watching and anticipating, the first day of spring, regardless of the fact that we live in Florida, where it is pretty much lovely all the time.  Even here, however, things are blooming and their is a renewal and a sense of hope and rebirth. We planted three flower pots of flowers and soaked up some of the glorious sunshine on this lovely day! :)

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Planting flowers seems like

Planting flowers seems like the perfect way to celebrate the first day of spring!