Spring Equinox 2019: When is the first day of spring and what does it mean?
21 March 2019, 16:23
Expect longer days, warmer weather and flowers in bloom as a new season has officially arrived.
Spring is officially here!
The days are getting lighter, the weather is warming up and flowers are starting to blossom as the beginning of a new season arrives.
But what is the Spring Equinox and why does it happen? Here, we explain everything you need to know about the annual March event.
What is the Spring Equinox?
The Spring Equinox, also know as the Vernal Equinox or the March Equinox, marks the first official day of spring.
The word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin word equinoxium, meaning "equality between day and night”, and signals one of the two times a year when day and night are almost exactly the same length.
NASA says: “Because Earth is tilted on its axis, there are only two days a year when the sun shines down exactly over the equator, and the day/night line – called the terminator – runs straight from north to south.
“In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox marks the beginning of spring – meaning that our half of Earth is slowly tilting towards the sun, giving us longer days and more sunlight, and moving us out of winter and into spring and summer.”
In the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of autumn.
When is the first day of spring?
This year it falls on March 20 at 9.58pm UK time and signals one of the four major turning points in Earth’s cycle of seasons.
The date of the Spring Equinox changes each year, but in the Northern Hemisphere it always takes place on March 19, 20 or 21.
How do people celebrate the Spring Equinox?
The Spring Equinox is celebrated in different ways across the globe.
In England, druids, pagans and tourists watch the sunrise at Stonehenge.
In countries including Iran, Tajikistan, Turkey and Iraq, around 300 million people will celebrate Persian New Year as part of a 3,000-year-old festival that begins on the first day of the year in the Iranian calendar – the first day of spring.
Holi, an ancient festival originating from India, marks the start of spring and also begins on March 20 this year.