When is the first day of spring? Fun facts about the spring equinox.

by 24USATVMarch 20, 2023, 3:20 a.m. 20
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It’s almost time to put those winter gloves away and break out the shorts, with the first day of spring 2023 fast approaching.

Even though we had a few tastes of spring during the past few months, and chilly temperatures are on tap for this weekend in New Jersey, the new season will officially arrive on Monday, March 20, with the spring equinox.
• None ALSO: NOAA’s spring outlook is out. Here’s what to expect for N.J. weather.

Spring 2023 technically starts at 5:24 p.m. Eastern time Monday, when the sun will be moving directly over the Earth’s equator — the central line between the North Pole and the South Pole — bringing almost equal minutes of daylight and darkness all around the globe.

That moment is widely known as the spring equinox, but some people call it the March equinox or the vernal equinox.

Here are some other interesting facts about the first day of spring.

Why is it called the spring equinox?

The word equinox was formed by two Latin words: “Equi” is the Latin prefix for “equal” and “nox” is the Latin word for “night.”

The other name of this annual occurrence, the vernal equinox, was derived from the word “vernal,” which translates to “new” and “fresh,” according to the Farmers’ Almanac, a rival publication of the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Does spring always start on the same day?

The spring equinox does not occur on the same day every year, but it always falls on one of these three days here in the northern hemisphere: March 19, March 20 or March 21.

In most years, the first day of spring lands on March 20. However, in 2020 the spring equinox arrived on March 19. In 2021, it reverted back to March 20, with that date repeating in 2022 and 2023.

The next time the spring equinox will occur on March 19 will be 2024, according to timeanddate.com. And the next time it arrives on March 21 will be 78 years from now — in 2101.

If you’re wondering why spring starts on different dates, you have to remember that “a year is not an even number of days and neither are the seasons,” notes Space.com. So, you can’t divide 365 days into four equal quarters and have and equal amount of days in every season.

In addition, the “earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation relative to the sun, which causes the Earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction,” the website says. “Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time Earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun.”

In many cultures around the world, the start of spring is considered a time of rebirth and renewal. And some major religious holidays — including Easter and Passover — are timed to be celebrated after the spring equinox and after a specific spring moon cycle.

This year, Christians will celebrate Easter Sunday on April 9, because that’s the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring — Thursday, April 6.

The Jewish holiday of Passover is always celebrated in the early spring, but just like the Christian calendar, the Jewish calendar is tied to lunar cycles. So this year, Passover will start on the evening of Wednesday, April 5, and end on the evening of Thursday, April 13.

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Len Melisurgo may be reached at [email protected].

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