The vernal equinox

The vernal equinox to dateis considered one of the most interesting and unique phenomena of nature. It falls on the end of March and until 2014 will be celebrated on the 20th. But the equinox is not only an astronomical phenomenon, but also an important period of the year in the culture of different peoples. From ancient times it was on this day that the coming of spring was celebrated.

The vernal equinox: what is it?

As already mentioned, the equinox is associated withthe motion of the Earth around its own axis and the Sun. On this day the planet passes so that the sun's rays fall right on the equator. This is the point of the vernal equinox. It is interesting that the sun is visible for 12 hours above the horizon and about the same time its rays are hidden. This means that the day of the equinox is characterized by an almost identical length of day and night.

Spring equinox and its traditions

This day was of great importance for differentpeoples. After all, in those times when the calendar was not yet, it was the end of March that was considered the beginning of spring. People believed that, from this moment, winter time loses its rights, the earth begins to slowly come to life, the trees appear kidneys, and in the sky one can observe the first lightning and thunder.

And to this day, people in Mexico are celebrating, accompanied by ritual dances and prayers.

But each people has its own traditions,according to which it is necessary to celebrate the arrival of spring. And one of such holidays is the well-known Shrovetide. Yes, now the Pancake week is celebrated at another time of the year because of the Christian fast. But the original date coincided with the day of the vernal equinox.

Initially, Pancake week was a god of fertility andleaving winter. The ancient Slavs were very carefully prepared for this period of the year, because this day marked the departure of the winter and the new birth of the solar god Yaril. Of course, the fires that helped the deity gain strength were an indispensable attribute of the holiday. In some villages it was even customary to set fire to the wheels and roll them along the roads - it symbolized a burning solar disk.

In addition, it was customary to create a scarecrow fromstraw. He was dressed in women's clothes, and a frying pan was attached to his hand. And during the festivities such Shrovetide was read as songs, carried from home to house, rolled on sleighs. And by the end of the holiday, the scarecrow was either burned or buried in the ground-winter was leaving.

Spring equinox in Japan

This day is celebrated in Japan, but here it has a completely different meaning. The celebration is timed to the ancient Buddhist tradition of Higan.

Holidays start a little earlier than springequinox - about three days before its onset and last three days after. For residents of the country this is a very important time of the year, when every person goes to bow and pray at the grave of their ancestors.

The preparation is of great importance here. Women carefully clean the house. To restore order is necessary and in the tomb of relatives or on their graves. And on March 20 - 21 members of the family visit deceased relatives, perform the necessary rituals, visit temples.

Another important tradition is a gala dinner. But on the table should be only vegetarian dishes, according to ancient Buddhist laws.

Spring equinox and its meaning for Christianity

Of course, such a holiday has paganroots. But it was this day that became the starting point for the celebration of Easter. Such a law was adopted back in 325 at the Council of Nicaea, when Christian countries adopted the Julian calendar. And Shrovetide remains an important holiday, despite some inconsistency in time.

And although we do not normally celebrate this day, butthe beginning of spring is felt in everything. This is a wonderful day when you can forget about the dark, cold and long evenings of winter and begin to revive to life together with nature.