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The History of The Spring Equinox

Let's talk about the History of The spring equinox across different cultures around the globe. Scientifically speaking, the spring equinox marks the day when the sun crosses the equator, making day and night almost equal in length everywhere. Spiritually speaking the Equinox represents the return of lush growth, vitality and sunlight. We are through the darkest part of the year, and soon the sun will be with us again. 

An ancient Mayan pyramid

The Spring Equinox is celebrated globally within so many different countries and cultures. In Mexico, at the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, a shadow will appear on a giant pyramid that will take the form of a serpent. This only happens during the spring and autumn equinoxes. The shadow of the snake body will merge with a stone snake head already carved and waiting for this moment. Chichén Itzá was a major Mayan city that dates back between 600 AD and 1200 AD. 

Nowruz is the Persian New Year, which is tied to the spring equinox. In Iran, Chaharshanbe Suri is celebrated leading up to Nowruz which typically includes bonfires and fireworks. All together, Nowruz is celebrated for 13 days in Iran. In Iranian mythology, it’s believed that King Jamshid saved the world from a doomsday winter. He built a gem encrusted throne and had demons carry him up to the heavens. From this height he was able to shine as the sun would down upon Earth. Historically, Nowruz has been celebrated by many cultures across the globe. 

The date is also known as Ostara to Wiccans and Pagans, as part of the Wheel of The Year. It’s an awakening of the soil and earth after the hibernation and freezing of winter. In a lot of ways it’s the thaw, the exhale between seasons. Soon fields will be planted again, eggs will be laid and the sun will come out to help us all grow. 

The name Ostara has ties to the Germanic Goddess Ēostre. Similar to how the spring equinox represents represents growth (and historically crops, the return of the literal growing season), Ēostre represents the same. Also interesting to point out, Ēostre historically is associated with symbols like rabbits and eggs (symbols that have been adopted for Easter). It was believed that Ēostre mated with the solar god on the Spring Equinox and birthed her son during Yule. Mithras was a Roman God, born on the Winter Solstice and resurrected in the Spring. 

The adaptation of Pagan festivals by Christianity historically is one of my favorite subjects. We have a few episodes on Lunatics Radio Hour that dive deeper into this, including The History of Yule. 

This year I am going to explore the spring festivals a bit more, keep your eyes peeled around May 1st for the history of May Day, Beltane and Walpurgis Night. There is so much darkness in the world, let us all take a moment for the return of the sun.

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