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Spring Has Sprung

Spring has Sprung

The grass has riz

I wonder where the flowers is?

– Anonymous

This time of year is the Vernal Equinox, which is marked by the day when the sun is directly above the Earth’s equator. Officially that happened yesterday, as the darn thing moves forward and back from year to year, but this makes the 21st the first full day of spring, as we traditionally consider the equinox as the dividing line between winter and spring. Our pagan ancestors celebrated these events (as well as the summer and winter solstices) in gratitude for the continuing cycle of the seasons, something they felt an angry god might deny us at any time. Today we know that our attitudes matter nothing to the forces of nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate them.

Here in Arizona, we have an opposite attitude to most of our compadres. Rather than being the swan song of a harsh and frigid winter, the start of spring signals the impending inferno of summer in the Sonora Desert.

As for the term “equinox,” this means “equal night.” The Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes (the latter being Sept. 22nd) are the two of the year when the hours of day and night are equal, everywhere on Earth. If you look at an on-line world-map clock, you’ll notice that the day-night line curves when going from north to south, with the daylight area widening or narrowing as you go northward depending on the season. Today, however, those lines are pretty much straight up and down. To illustrate this fact, I’ve attached a screenshot from 24timezones.com.

Besides geography nerds such as myself, the only people who celebrate the Equinox are neo-pagans and Wiccans. In my view, the cycles of nature are a much more worthwhile cause for celebration than all the traditional holidays the media has emptied of meaning and appropriated for commercial reasons. Give them time, however, and they’ll be selling Happy Equinox cards at your local drugstore.

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