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Customs and holidays around the March equinox

In many cultures, the March Equinox is associated with a time of transition and new beginnings. People in the Northern Hemisphere consider it as the first day of spring while those in the Southern Hemisphere see it as the first day of Fall.

Easter Monday
Easter occurs after the March equinox
©iStockphoto.com/Shannon Long

Here are some ways people around the world celebrate and observe the March Equinox:

Some Bring Out the Easter Eggs

In addition to being the Spring (Vernal) Equinox in the North and the Fall (Autumnal) Equinox in the South, the date of the March Equinox plays a huge role in calculating the dates for when to celebrate Jewish Passover and Christian Easter.

In many Christian cultures, Easter eggs are synonymous with Easter. Also known as Paschal eggs, these are usually decorated chicken eggs that symbolize fertility and rebirth. Many Easter related events feature the Easter egg as the central theme. Traditional games like egg hunts, where colorful easter eggs are hidden for children to find, egg rolling, where eggs are rolled down a hill, and egg dancing, where eggs are laid on the floor and people dance while trying to not damage them are held all around the world.

...And Try to Balance Them

An ancient Chinese tradition calls for balancing eggs, a symbol of fertility, on the day of the March Equinox for good luck and prosperity.

This ancient custom has given rise to a modern myth. Every year during the March Equinox people claim that it is the only day of the year when an egg can be perfectly balanced on its end. A version of the claim suggests that eggs can only be balanced on their end at the exact time of the Equinox. The truth is that there is nothing magical about the Equinox or the time it occurs - you can balance an egg perfectly on its end on any other day as well.

Others Ring in their New Year

The Iranian New Year (Nowruz, No-Ruz, No-Rooz or No Ruz) occurs during the time of the March Equinox, in accordance with the Persian astronomical calendar. It has been celebrated for over 3000 years and is rooted in the traditions of Zoroastrianism. No-Ruz celebrations lasts for about 12 days. Preparations start well in advance and include buying new clothes for family members and thoroughly cleaning homes. Wheat or lentil representing new growth is grown in a flat dish a few days before the New Year and is called Sabzeh (green shoots).

In Japan, People Remember their Ancestors

Higan (Higan-e or Ohigan), is a week of Buddhist services in Japan during the March and September equinoxes. Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period (1868-1912).

"Higan" means the “other shore” and refers to dead spirits who reach Nirvana after crossing the river of existence. It celebrates the spiritual move from the world of suffering to the world of enlightenment.

Many Celebrate the Earth

Some organizations schedule Earth Day for March 20, while others set the date for April 22. For some, Earth Day is when people from all nations, religions and cultural backgrounds celebrate their similarities: living on Earth. For others, Earth Day is observed to promote the protection the natural environment from pollution and other destructive forces. Earth Day activities include planting trees, cleaning roadside rubbish and conducting recycling and conservation programs. Earth day was first observed in 1970.

In this Article


Equinox & Solstice in Culture

  1. Spring equniox in culture
  2. Summer solstice traditions
  3. Fall equinox in culture
  4. Winter solstice traditions

Solstices & Equinoxes

Astronomical Season Calculator

Sunrise & Sunset times

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