A collage showing flowers and faeries to celebrate spring

The Equinox Made Me Do It: Sneeze, Shout, and Celebrate Spring

After months of frozen ground and bare trees, spring is coming.

There’s something about the arrival of this season; they way it contrasts the cold ferocity of winter. If winter is meant to teach us about staying strong and getting rest, then spring is a time to burst into life.

The flowers tell us this. Ancient civilizations tell us this, and it turns out even our bodies are in on it.

Take a deeper look at some of the most notable experiences spring brings for us:

Ancient Celebrations of Spring

Our collective human ancestors, in their ancient wisdom, figured out very early on that there are two specific days when the sun’s rise and set are exactly east and west, respectively. And with that discovery, they found more ways to honor it.

In Egypt, on the day of the spring equinox, the Great Sphinx stares directly west into the setting sun.

Despite all the mystery that stubbornly shrouds Stonehenge, the location is very upfront about its commitment to celebrating the movements of the sun. People today flock to the ancient cite en masse to celebrate changing seasons–including spring, known in pagan practice as ostara.

How the sun hits Stone Henge. (Source: British Museum)

Perhaps one of the most impressive spring celebrations that which takes place at the pyramid at Chichén Itzá. This ancient Mexican city is where spring’s equinox unleashes the Kukulkan, a larger-than-life serpent which descends the pyramid on this day as the sun sets on the equinox. 

“As time passes by, the triangles created by the platforms start to move along the staircase until it’s completely covered up by shadow. After this effect, the serpent’s head is the only part of the staircase with sunlight, only to be also covered up as the sun continues his path.”

from the Mayan Peninsula website

The Science of Spring Fever

For the ancient civilizations of Mexico, Egypt, and more, building such an intricate trick of light surely meant a lot of planning. And waiting. And anticipating.

While our modern lives may be less patient than those of the ancients, there is certainly still correlations to sun worshipping. For some, the ritual might kick off with the awakening of allergies. Though it’s not an ideal start to a new season, there is significant evidence that suggests our bodies are aware of this celestial change and are prepared for the adjustments in the season.

“Cultural and social factors influence conception patterns but biology plays a strong role,” says the Scientific American. The 2007 article explored the actual effects the changing season has on us mere mortals.

In one study of 500 people, there was a clear improvement in mood for people who spent time outside on a sunny spring day. This mood improvement might also be what has us feeling the love.

It seems mammals are also inclined to get busy reproducing in the spring months, a predisposed seasonal pattern that promotes species survival.

In fact, as mammals, humans all actually share a true biological clock. Scientists found it in our hypothalamus, and gave it the name of suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Basically, it monitors light, and produces melatonin based on the natural changes in light that come with the seasons change.

When winter plunges us into deeper, longer darkness, we get tired–our bodies encouraging us to rest. As spring ramps up the day light, less melatonin is produced, thus giving us more energy to carpe diem.

Can’t sleep all night? Can’t stop daydreaming?You may have a case of spring fever.

You can learn a lot of things from the flowers

For those of us planting perennials, spring delights us with the emergence of daffodils and tulips from the ground. They spent a season frozen beneath it, and as the trees begin to bud, flowers and plenty of other flora and fauna let clue us in that nap time is over.

While the science tells us how to interact with spring, the season is also a more welcoming opportunity to explore our Great Mother Earth and all her wonder.

There’s one particularly beautiful myth surrounding the reemergence of spring: the Anajana faeries. These Spanish woodland pixies are said to celebrate Ostara by dancing until dawn scattering roses.

Legend has it that some people are lucky enough to find one of their scattered rose petals. These purple, green, blue, or golden treasures promise a lifetime of happiness.

I wonder if a tulip will do.

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