In Colorado we have a saying, we begin the first day of Spring in the same way we began the Fall: with snow. This symmetry is relevant as both the beginning of Spring and Fall coincide with the Equinox. This word is made up of two Latin root words aequus and nox meaning “equal night” referring to the fact that daylight and night time are equal in duration.
Date of Spring
This year, the vernal equinox (Spring) occurs on March 20 at 09:37 UTC. This means Temps Universel Coordonne, or Coordinated Universal Time if you don’t speak French, roughly equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time if you’re British, or Zulu Time if you’re a pilot. The Autumnal Equinox occurs 6 months later. Since each equinox occurs at the same time whether in the northern hemisphere as the southern hemisphere, though the seasons are reversed, it is becoming common to call the (northern) vernal equinox the March Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox the September Equinox.
Where do we get the name vernal? It was St. Vernal of Bithynia in the 5th century who… Nah, just kidding. Vernal is from the Latin vernālis, from vernus “of spring.” It refers to the fresh or young part of the year.
Relevance of Spring
As surely as Winter follows Autumn, so does Spring follow Winter — except in Colorado — so also in most other parts of the US do we see the blossoming of new life. Many of the holidays of this season, both pagan and religious, point to new life.
In Gaelic or Celtic tradition Imbolc marks the beginning of this season, even though it usually falls in February. This points to the anticipation of the birth of Spring lambs, though in the US it usually points to Groundhog Day. Beltane usually ends this season in the Celtic calendar, known popularly as May Day. In the Christian calendar, Easter is the highpoint of the Spring festivals, celebrating “new life” in the observation of the resurrection of Jesus.
Spring has sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where
The flowers is?
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
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