As the vernal equinox heralds the first day of spring, all over the world, unique phenomena can be seen only on this day.
For thousands of years, humans have known that around the day marked on the Gregorian calendar as March 20 (or 21, but we’ll see that later) the day and night were of equal measure, and the sun rose perfectly to the east. , and perfectly situated to the west.
This led to all kinds of mythical belief systems, fascinating astronomical calculations, and major construction projects. Especially for people who live in temperate zones, where seasonal climates are so shocking in daily life, the equinox has a kind of mystique that can cause people to garden, read an almanac or keep an eye on the migratory birds.
The equinox is a fascinating event that has captivated human minds for thousands of years, so it’s no wonder there is so much to learn about it.
Don’t get old
If you think the equinox is March 21, it may be showing your age. The last time the equinox was March 21, Barack Obama was running for president.
This is because we use the Gregorian calendar and the location of the equinox changes every two centuries. For those who grow up with the equinox of the 21st, they won’t see that again until the 22nd century.
These days, the equinox arrives on March 20 and there it will remain throughout our lives, the lives of our children and most of the lives of their children.
The brilliance of the ancient astronomers stands out, who were able to notice the subtle differences in the location of the sun in the sky not only year after year, but century after century; and in the case of the ‘long count’ cycle of the Maya, millennia to millennia.
The word equinox comes from Latin words that together mean “equal night” and one would be forgiven for assuming that this means that the day and night period of the equinox is perfectly 50-50.
However, Bob Berman, astronomer-in-residence at Old Farmers Almanac, points out this year that there is more sun than moon in a few minutes because the earth’s atmosphere refracts light or bends it around the earth. Also, the fact that the sun emits a wide circle of light instead of a single point means that there will always be variations.
The actual date, as Berman points out, of equal light and dark is a few days before the equinox.
In Maryland, among the boating community, it is a tradition to wear socks only during the winter. Certainly, for those who do business with the sea, there is a tendency to adopt superstitions, but this also seems like a powerful ritual of optimism for a warmer climate.
Every year on the spring equinox, Annapolis yacht clubs, the maritime museum, shipyard workers, and even Virginia state park rangers celebrate the Sock burning festival, welcoming the warm waters of the vast Chesapeake Bay.
Annual sock-burning events have become family parties and are usually accompanied by eating oysters and other shellfish. Officially, they agree not to wear socks until next winter.
Ancient architectural alignments
Ancient peoples observed and closely followed the movement of the sun, moon, and stars. Perhaps it is because it was highly relevant to its agricultural success, but great civilizations throughout the ages have enshrined the passage of the equinox in their architectural designs, often aligning the foundations of their buildings with certain times during the solstice, equinox, or both. .
Chichen Itza is one of the most famous monuments in Mesoamerica, and the great stepped pyramid of Kulkulcan in Mexico is built in such exquisite connection with the equinox that attracts thousands of tourists on this particular day every year.
The shadows of this structure, built between the 8th and 12th centuries AD, formed by the equinoctial sun, evoke the image of the “Serpent of the Sun” sliding down the north side of the pyramid.
Other monuments such as Stonehenge, Newgrange, built by the ancient Irish, Machu Picchu and the Pyramid of Khafre, are also aligned with the equinox in unique ways.
In connection with the rhythms of the land, sea and sky, we can find a deeper connection with nature and the world around us, as well as with our ancestors who discovered this unique day in the cycle of the earthly year.
CELEBRATE spring by burning your socks and sharing this on social media …