Spring Equinox

Lithuanian eggs

Attribution: Algirdas at the Wikimedia

As one of the two yearly equinoxes, physical daylight is equally balanced with night at this time. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight is on the increase after the spring equinox, moving towards the longest ‘day’ three months later at the Summer Solstice.

This year the northern hemisphere’s spring equinox occurs at 6:46PM EDT- on March 20, 2015 (to find this in your time zone use this converter).

Cross Quarter (Solstices & Equinoxes) Festivals Welsh Names

Modern researched names & meaning:

Alban Arthan: Light of the Bear
Alban Eilir: Light of Spring
Alban Hefin: Light of Summer
Alban Elfed: Light of Autumn

Traditional names & meaning:

Alban Arthuan: Light of Arthur
Alban Eiler: Light of the Earth
Alban Heruin: Light of the Shore
Alban Elued: Light of the Water

Source: OBOD, The Book of Ritual (2001)

Spring Equinox Traditions

Alban Eilir (Druidry)

The Druid spring equinox festival is known as Alban Eilir, which means ‘The Light of the Earth’. Spring is a time of rebirth- the soils warm, plants emerge, trees leaf out, many animals start giving birth, and crops are sown.

In Druidry there are three spring festivals: Imbolc, marking the first small signs of Spring, Alban Eilir marking its budding, and Beltane marking its full bloom, just as summer begins. So at Alban Eilir the return of life to the earth is celebrated, and balance contemplated.

The hare is associated with this holiday, and protects the life-giving Druid’s Egg; a custom reflected in the giving of Easter eggs by the Easter bunny.

To learn more:

Deeper into Alban Eilir, OBOD


Ostara (Pagan)

The spring equinox is also known among many Pagans as Ostara. Ostara (or Eostre) is the Teutonic goddess of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox. She brings renewal and rebirth from the death of winter. Likewise, rabbits, hares, and eggs serve as fertility symbols for this holiday. (And were doubtless adopted for spring Easter celebrations by Christian churches.)

In Celtic countries it is customary to leave out gifts of something sweet (honey, or mead, or candy) for the faeries at Ostara.

Ostara

“Ostara” (1901) by Johannes Gehrts

To learn more:

At Neolithic Sites

Loughcrew Cairn

Loughcrew Cairn (Ireland, June 2004)

At the 5000 year old Loughcrew megalithic cairn in Ireland, the rising sun on the mornings around the equinoxes illuminate the passage and chamber. The center stone of the chamber with its engraved sun symbols is bathed in a blaze of golden light during the period of illumination.

Loughcrew Cairn inside

Center of Loughcrew Cairn (Ireland, June 2004)


 Miscellaneous

St. Patrick’s Day– is celebrated on March 17th just before the spring equinox. The usual explanation for the use of the shamrock during this holiday is that St Patrick once used its three-leaved shape to illustrate a ‘new’ (at the time) doctrine of the Trinity; however the shamrock is probably the national emblem of Ireland because of its earlier pagan or Druidic associations.

Nowruz – (or ‘new light’) the Persian New Year has been celebrated for 3,000 years. It was originally a Zoroastrian festival, and is also a holy day for Sufis, Bahais, and others.

Gudhi Padwa in India is celebrated by some groups as New Years Day. It is also when the sun is in the first point of Aries, their first sign of the zodiac , and is considered a natural beginning of spring. Per the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world. Other related holidays for the end of the year or new year are dated from the vernal equinox in India.

Vernal Equinox Day (Shunbun no hi)- in Japan is an official national holiday, and is spent visiting family graves and holding family reunions. Prior to the establishment of this non-religious holiday in 1948, this was the date of Shunki (vernal) kōreisai, a Shintoism event. During the event, one prayed for good harvest in the spring.

Lieldienas– (“big days”) in Latvia was the celebration of Vernal Equinox on March 23. The celebration usually lasted three or four days, and was a celebration of dancing, singing and gaiety. Eggs are associated with Lieldienas. In modern Latvia Easter is called Lieldienas, but some of the old traditions survive and are still performed. (Go here for a video.)

Easter– a Christian holiday that falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox each year.

The Triquetra

Triquetra

A symbolic plant of the Equinox in Druidry is the trefoil or shamrock. A triquetra (sometimes called a Trinity Knot) as a symbol reflects the form of a shamrock and has many associations in paganism.
As examples it can represent- the three stages of the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother, and Crone); the realms of Land, Sea and Sky; or the interconnected parts of our existence (Mind, Body, and Soul).

Date of Publication

This Spring Equinox page was originally published on 1-18-2013, with many revisions since then.