Theme of the Week – Monday 19th March 2018

What Is the Spring Equinox

We get pretty excited about the spring equinox bringing us out of winter and officially starting the season of spring.  But what exactly is the spring equinox?  And does an equinox happen at the start of every season?

First, let’s get into the equinox, which actually occurs just twice a year.  The word equinox comes from Latin and means “equality of night and day.”  So, the equinox occurs at two specific moments in time when the sun is exactly above the equator.

In the northern hemisphere, the spring, or vernal equinox happens around 21st March, when the sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox occurs around 22nd September, when the sun crosses the celestial equator going south.  But if you want to be truly egalitarian, opt for saying March equinox and September equinox instead.  After all, in the southern hemisphere, March represents the beginning of autumn and spring comes along in September!

The equinox has inspired a number of interesting false beliefs, including that the event causes a massive disruption of communication satellites, or that on the equinox an egg can effortlessly be balanced on its end.

So what about the beginning of summer and winter?  Well, the equinox is often confused with the solstice, which is either of the two times a year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator.  Solstice derives from the Latin solstitium, which literally means “the standing still of the sun.”  The solstice occurs around June 21 and December 22.

Whether you’re celebrating spring or autumn, the March equinox represents an interesting moment in our latest journey around the sun.

So Where Did the  Easter Egg Originate From

Brightly decorated eggs, Easter egg rolling and Easter egg hunts have become integral to the celebration of Easter today.  However, the tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs during springtime pre-dates Christianity.  In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth.  For example, for thousands of years, Iranians have decorated eggs on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, that falls on the spring equinox.

Some claim that the Easter egg has pagan roots. Before Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, some argue ancient pagans in Europe observed the Spring Equinox as the return of the sun God — a rebirth of light and an emergence from the lean winter.  Also, in most other languages the word for Easter—Pascua in Spanish and Pasques in French, for instance — derives from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover.

For Christians, the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Painting Easter eggs is an especially beloved tradition in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, where the eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.  Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal vigil and distributed to the congregants.  The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  Moreover, historically Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat eggs after a long period of abstinence.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions.  An egg hunt involves hiding eggs outside for children to run around and find on Easter morning.  Eggs are rolled as a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ’s tomb.  In the United States, the Easter Egg Roll is an annual event that is held on the White House lawn each Monday after Easter.

……. And What Of The Easter Bunny

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday.  Nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday.  The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.  According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare, called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.”  Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs.  Eventually, the custom spread across the US  and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.  Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry after all that hopping about.