Welcome the Spring with a Vernal Equinox celebration. The spring equinox is on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at 9:37 UTC. This means that it will occur on March 20, 2021, at 5:37 AM EDT or 2:37 AM PDT in the Northern Hemisphere.
The spring equinox, or Ostara, is also called the vernal equinox and has long been celebrated as a time of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. The exact date and time of the spring vernal equinox changes each year slightly and marks the first astronomical day of spring on the Gregorian calendar.
Many cultures celebrate spring festivals and holidays–like Easter and Passover–around the equinox. For example, Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls after the March equinox. These ancient spring solstice celebrations have influenced the Easter Traditions that we still celebrate today. Learn what the vernal equinox is and learn how to celebrate the spring with these fun facts and spring equinox celebration ideas.
Related: Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
Related: How to Make a Spring Easter Tree
What is the Equinox?
The word equinox is derived from Latin. It means “equal night.” On the day that the sun passes over the equator, the length of day and night are said to be approximately equal. This means that there will be approximately 12 daylight hours and 12 hours of darkness on both the spring vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.
At the exact moment of the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator before continuing its journey north or south, depending on the time of year. In other words, the equinox is the point in time that the sun crosses the celestial equator. It is an astronomical event that happens simultaneously across the world but is converted into local time.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun passes over the equator and continues northwards after the spring equinox. On the autumnal equinox, the sun crosses over the equator and continues its southward declination.
In the Southern hemisphere, the path of the sun is reversed. This means that the sun moves south of the equator after the spring equinox and will continue it’s journey north after the autumnal equinox.
Related: Summer Solstice Celebration Ideas
What is the Spring Equinox?
The spring equinox marks the astronomical first day of spring in both the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere, even though they occur 6 months apart.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox is when the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves northwards from the equator at 23.5 South. While in the Southern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox is when the sun crosses the equator and descends towards its southernmost declination.
Thus, the spring equinox marks the moment when the sun crosses over the celestial equator and continues on its journey towards its northernmost ascent in the Northern Hemisphere. At the same time, it moves south of the equator after the spring equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.
When is the Equinox?
There are two equinoxes and two solstices every year. One equinox occurs in September, while the other occurs in March. The season that you welcome, fall or spring, depends on the side of the equator that you live on. This means that the southern hemisphere celebrates the autumnal equinox on the same date and time that the northern hemisphere celebrates the spring equinox and vice versa.
When is the Spring Equinox?
The spring equinox is sometimes called the March equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the September equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. This is because the spring vernal equinox typically falls between March 20 – 22 in the northern hemisphere and September 21 – 23 in the Southern hemisphere. On rare occasions, the equinox can happen just outside of those date ranges to account for leap years.
A leap year is when an extra day, February 29, is added to the calendar. Leap years are added to keep the seasons, or the solar year, in sync with the Gregorian calendar. Even though each equinox’s date and time change slightly each year, the spring vernal equinox and fall autumnal equinox always happen at the same moment all over the world.
What Day is the Spring Equinox in 2020?
In 2020, the spring equinox will happen on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at 9:37 UTC. (Source)
This means that the spring vernal equinox will happen at 5:37 AM EDT, or 2:37 AM PDT, on March 20, 2021, in the Northern Hemisphere.
Spring Equinox Traditions
The spring equinox, also known as Ostara, has been celebrated as a time of fertility, rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings for thousands of years. Today, many of the spring solstice rituals and symbols that were once attributed to Ostara have found their home in modern-day Easter traditions.
The word Ostara originates from the name of the Greek goddess Eostre. In the past, pagans held a huge festival to honor Eostre on the same day that Easter falls today–on the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls after the spring equinox. I know it’s a mouthful, but it still is the date chosen to be “Easter” to this very day!
Ostara Rituals, Eostre, and Easter Traditions
The spring equinox, Ostara, is a time for rituals and celebrations surrounding the themes of fertility, new beginnings, and rebirth. Eggs and bunnies represent fertility, while eggs and seedlings are considered symbols of rebirth and renewal. In ancient times, baskets filled with eggs were offered to Eostre as a symbol of fertility and new beginnings.
Since Easter is celebrated on the same day that the pre-Christians celebrated Eostre, many of the traditions associated with Eostre and the spring equinox have been reinvented and included in Easter Traditions. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the word Easter is very similar to the word Eostre.
Easter baskets, colored or dyed eggs, and even the Easter bunny became a way to continue to honor the rituals and traditions that the masses found most meaningful. This is why many of the rituals and customs that were once associated with the spring equinox have become an integral part of Easter traditions today.
Related: Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
How to Celebrate the Spring Equinox: 15 Vernal Equinox Celebration Ideas
Below you will find 15 traditional spring equinox celebration ideas. Some of the spring equinox traditions listed are individual suggestions, while other spring equinox rituals and celebration ideas can be done with family and friends. Create something meaningful for you and your family, and you can’t go wrong. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and are welcoming the fall, try these ways to celebrate the fall autumnal equinox!
1. Get Outside & Connect
Take some time to celebrate the new life beginning that surrounds you in nature. Watch the sunrise and/or sunset, go for a walk in the park, take a bike ride, lay in the grass, or take a hike. As you do so, observe all the new life beginning around you.
To learn more about the signs of spring’s arrival and what to look for in the natural world, hop over to have a look at Signs of Spring. For more outside activities, hop over to have a look at our list in “Get Outside & Connect.”
2. Plant New Life
The vernal equinox is a great time of year to start planting your flowers and gardens if you haven’t already. If you live in an area where it is still impossible to plant anything, you can start some plants indoors or get your yard and garden ready for late spring plantings. Try any of the gardening ideas listed below!
- How to Plant Spring Flowers Organically
- Composting At Home: What, Why, And How to Compost
- How to Make a Fairy Garden
- Growing Sunflowers (pictured below)
3. Visit a Megalithic Monument
4. Prepare a Family Feast
No spring celebration is complete without a family meal filled with seasonal spring foods to go along with it. For the equinox, celebrate with foods that honor the coming of spring — eggs, early spring greens, shoots, sprouts, seasonal local produce, local bread, wine, etc.
Spend some time with your family shopping at your local farmers’ market or produce stand to collect local spring foods to prepare for your spring feast!
5. Have or Attend a Bonfire
A bonfire is a great way to celebrate the equinox. Tell stories, dance, sing, beat drums, play music, and celebrate the spring. Please be safe and follow city or county laws and regulations. Click the link to learn How to build a campfire and keep everyone safe.
6. Enjoy Spring Arts, Crafts, and STEAM Activities
Another spring craft you can make with the kids is this gorgeous Four Season Handprint and Fingerprint Tree! Feel free to do all seasons or just a spring tree.
7. Decorate Eggs
Another fun egg decorating idea is creating watercolor surprise egg art… Draw your own, or grab our FREE printable egg template!
Related: How to COLOR brown eggs
8. Bring Spring into your Home
There is nothing like the fresh smell and beauty of spring in the home. Pick or purchase a bouquet of spring flowers or refresh and renew your home and body with essential oils. There is nothing like an essential oil diffuser to bring the fresh scents of spring into the home.
Related: Felt Flower Craft
9. Decorate the House with Spring Decor
Decorate your home with DIY spring home decor. We like to set up and decorate a spring Easter tree on the equinox and keep it up until Easter Sunday.
10. Stand an Egg on its End
Legend says that you can stand an egg on its end during the spring equinox. I have never tried this, and I’m pretty sure it’s hogwash… but it sounds fun!
You can convince your guests to attempt it as a party prank while waiting for your spring solstice family feast!
11. Meditate and/or Practice Yoga
Meditate upon new spring life, and celebrate the change of seasons. On the equinox, day and night, dark and light are balanced. Meditate and/or practice yoga to create inner peace and balance.
Related: Best Free Yoga Videos for Kids
12. Read Books about Spring
Read spring books with your kids to help them understand the equinox and the cyclical nature of the seasons.
For a short and sweet list, click over to have a look at these magical spring books for kids.
13. Restore Balance in the Home
Cleaning is a great way to restore balance in the home or workplace and prepare for new beginnings. Recruit everyone to help with a deep spring cleaning.
Related: 15 Ways to Raise a Helper
Get rid of clutter and anything that you no longer need to make space for the new season. Keep children and pets safe, with homemade all-natural cleaning products.
14. Begin Something New
Because the equinox is about new beginnings, it’s a great time of year to let go of the old and begin fresh.
As the days begin to grow longer and the temperatures begin to warm, people begin to spend more and more time outdoors. It is a great time to make a commitment to yourself to start something new.
- Make a list of everything you’ve been wanting to do.
- Pick your top three choices.
- Make a plan to start one and go from there. Hop over to read how to make SMART goals and creating positive habits to get started today!
15. Establish a Daily Routine or Rhythm
Spring is typically a time of renewal and rebirth. Establishing a new daily routine or rhythm can help ease transitions, increase productivity, and provide a framework for your daily to-do’s.
Children also thrive on rhythms in the home. Head over to read how to plan your daily routine to learn more about the power of rhythm in the home.
Related: Easter Art Ideas Kids LOVE!
Fun Ways to Celebrate the Spring Vernal Equinox
We hope that you enjoyed learning more about the equinox and fun ways to celebrate the first day of spring. Don’t forget to check out fun family Easter traditions to learn more about how spring equinox traditions have influenced the way many people celebrate Easter today.
You may also enjoy this spring bucket list filled with fun ideas. Inside, you can find our favorite spring activities, arts, and crafts!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play click HERE!