History of The Spring: What is the Vernal Equinox?


In Colorado, we have a saying; we begin the first day of Spring like we began the Fall: with snow. This symmetry is relevant as the beginning of Spring and Fall coincide with the Equinox. This word is comprised of two Latin root words, aequus and nox, meaning “equal night,” referring to the fact that daylight and nighttime are equal in duration.


Date of Spring

This year, the vernal equinox (Spring) occurs on March 20 at 21:25 UTC. This means Temps Universel Coordonne, or Coordinated Universal Time if you don’t speak French, roughly equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time if you’re British, or Zulu Time if you’re a pilot.

The Autumnal Equinox occurs six months later. Since each equinox occurs simultaneously, whether in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere, though the seasons are reversed, it is becoming common to call the (northern) vernal equinox the March Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox the September Equinox.


Vernal Equinox?

Where do we get the name vernal? It was St. Vernal of Bithynia in the 5th century who… Nah, just kidding. Vernal is from the Latin vernālis, from vernus, “of spring.” It refers to the fresh or young part of the year.


Relevance of Spring

As surely as Winter follows Autumn, so does Spring follow Winter

(… except in Colorado.) In most other parts of the U.S., we see the blossoming of new life. Many of this season’s holidays, both pagan and religious, point to new life.

In Gaelic or Celtic tradition, Imbolc marks the beginning of this season, even though it usually falls in February. This points to the anticipation of the birth of Spring lambs, though in the U.S., it usually points to Groundhog Day.

Beltane usually ends this season in the Celtic calendar, known popularly as May Day. In the Christian calendar, Easter is the high point of the Spring festivals, celebrating “new life” in the observation of the resurrection of Jesus.


Spring has sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where
The flowers is?



Colorado Springs Crocuses



Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

Subscribe to have future articles delivered to your email. If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment.

About billpetro

Bill Petro has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

1 Comment

  1. Bob and Linda Morgan on March 20, 2021 at 9:09 am

    What a fun, yet still informational article! Spring in Colorado ~ when, as we’ve heard Pastor Bates say, that time of year when you coordinate your Easter bonnet and snow boots!

Leave a Comment