Spring equinox 2023: Ancient traditions of renewal echo into the modern world

Thomas Nashe, the 16th-century British poet and dramatist, certainly looked forward to spring in his own colorful, singsong way:

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit,
In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet spring!

Sweet spring indeed – a time to observe the growing light, listen to the birds, smell the flowers and feel the growing warmth from the sun.

They’re all signs that spring equinox 2023 is arriving. This official first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is a sign of rebirth, a time of tradition and a harmonious balance between day and night.

Precisely when will the spring equinox happen?
Some folks like things scheduled down to the minute.

The spring equinox will arrive exactly at 21:24 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) March 20, according to EarthSky. Here’s how that breaks down at various points around the world (all times adjusted for Daylight Saving Time):

• Honolulu (Hawaii): 11:24 a.m.
• San Francisco (California) and Victoria (Canada): 2:24 p.m.
• Santa Fe (New Mexico) and Guadalajara (Mexico): 3:24 p.m.
• Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Kingston (Jamaica): 4:24 p.m.
• Montreal (Canada) and Charleston (South Carolina): 5:24 p.m.
• Halifax (Canada): 6:24 p.m.

Crossing over the Atlantic, here are some more places:

• Dublin (Ireland) and Accra (Ghana): 9:24 p.m.
• Paris (France) and Algiers (Algeria): 10:24 p.m.
• Helsinki (Finland) and Alexandria (Egypt): 11:24 p.m.

For time zones east of the above, the equinox actually falls on Tuesday, March 21. Some more places:

• Istanbul (Turkey) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): 12:24 a.m.
• Dubai (United Arab Emirates): 1:24 a.m.
• Mumbai (India): 2:54 a.m.
• Bangkok (Thailand) and Hanoi (Vietnam): 4:24 a.m.
• Singapore: 5:24 a.m.

• Seoul (South Korea) and Osaka (Japan): 6:24 a.m.

You can click here to see a listing of major cities. Or click here to look up the exact moment of the spring equinox where you live.

For some, fall is in the air

Folks in the Northern Hemisphere are looking forward to longer days, flowers and a burst of greenery. But for people living south of the equator, this equinox means they are heading into fall.

So for Chileans, South Africans and Australians, among others, this is a time to look forward to cooler autumn weather.

For people who reside near the equator (in places such as Quito, Ecuador, or Singapore), none of this is really a big deal. They get roughly 12 hours of daylight and nighttime year round.

Spring equinox has another name
If you ever hear anyone say “vernal equinox,” it means the same thing.

The term equinox comes from the Latin word “equinoxium,” meaning “equality between day and night.” And vernal also comes from Latin and means “spring.”

Why does spring equinox happen?
The Earth rotates along an imaginary line that runs from North Pole to South Pole. It’s called the axis, and this rotation is what gives us day and night.

However, the axis tilts at 23.5 degrees, as NASA explains. That positions one hemisphere of the planet to get more sunlight than the other for half of the year’s orbit around the sun. This discrepancy in sunlight is what triggers the seasons.

The effect is at its maximum in late June and late December. Those are the solstices, and they have the most extreme differences between day and night, especially near the poles. (That’s why it stays dark for so long each day during the winter in places such as Scandinavia and Alaska.)

But since the winter solstice three months ago in December, you’ve probably noticed that our days have been getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere and the nights shorter. And now here we are at the spring equinox!

Going forward, the Northern Hemisphere will be more exposed to the sun than the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why it gets increasingly warmer as we head toward the summer solstice in June.