For those in the Northern Hemisphere, March 20 this year marks the vernal, or spring equinox, while for those in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time of the autumnal equinox. It marks the day when the sun passes over the celestial equator and the length of day and night is roughly equal, thus the word ‘equinox’, which means ‘equal night’ in Latin.
For thousands of years, the spring equinox has been celebrated as a time of rebirth and abundance by many countries and cultures around the world. Megalithic people in Europe calculated the date of the spring equinox using circular monuments constructed of huge stones; Germanic tribes associated it with the fertility goddess Ostara; the Maya gathered at the pyramid at Chichen Itza which was designed to produce a serpent shadow on the day of the equinox; and the ancient Saxons held a feast day for their version of the fertility goddess, Eostre, on the full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Here are some videos of amazing equinox illuminations to help you reconnect with the ancients.
El Castillo, Mexico
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Grianan of Aileach, Ireland
Loughcrew Cairns, Ireland
Machu Picchu, Peru
Find out more about the equinox celebrations at ancient sites in the article ‘How Ancient People Marked the Equinox Around the World,’ available in the March - April 2023 issue of Ancient Origins Magazine. Get it here!
Feature Image: El Castillo during the equinox showing the undulating image of a serpent. Source: SOMATUSCANI / Adobe Stock
By Joanna Gillan