Here's Why We Celebrate The Spring Equinox

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Are you ready to say goodbye to winter forever? (Well, at least for the next nine months?) The spring equinox is upon us, and with it comes longer days, warmer weather, flowers, sandals, sunshine, and general happiness. You know, spring stuff. But, what is the spring equinox exactly, and when should we celebrate? Those beautiful spring days are so close, I can feel it.

The first full day of spring is officially March 20, but depending on where you live, you might experience the spring equinox a little bit earlier. There are two times each year when the sun is positioned directly above the Earth's equator — once in September, and again in March. When this happens in September, we experience the autumnal equinox, which marks the first day of fall. In March, it's called the vernal equinox, or spring equinox, and it's the beginning of the spring season.

Officially, the spring equinox occurs this year on March 20 at 4:30 Universal Time, though because of a funny little thing called "time zones," parts of North America will experience the spring equinox a few hours earlier. I know it sounds trippy, but some of you lucky souls living on the West Coast will get a first taste of spring starting at 9:30 p.m. on March 19. As for the rest of us, here's what the sun's touring schedule looks like:

  • March 19 at 9:30 p.m. PDT
  • March 19 at 10:30 p.m. MDT
  • March 19 at 11:30 p.m. CDT
  • March 20 at 12:30 a.m. EDT

Spring is coming, y'all!

So why is the vernal equinox so important? Well, from here on out, the days officially begin to get longer, as the Earth's Northern Hemisphere tilts closer to the sun, meaning more daylight and warmer weather. On this day in particular, day and night are just about equal length (the word equinox literally translates into equal night). Of course, the vernal equinox doesn't mean spring in all parts of the world. The Southern Hemisphere is actually ushering in the start of its fall season and will experience shorter days as it tilts farther away from the sun. A bummer for people living in Australia, to be sure, but if there's one thing we can always look forward to, it's that spring comes back around eventually, just like clockwork.

Images: Sean Gallup/Getty Images; Giphy