March 20th at 5:24 p.m. marks the spring equinox this year. The length of the day and night is almost equal wherever you are in the world, with the sun shining directly on the equator.
It marks the beginning of spring in the northern Hemisphere. It signifies a time of balance and wholeness. The word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin ‘aequus’ and ‘nox’ which means equal and night respectively. Both the spring and fall equinoxes occur in between the summer and winter solstices, marking the two points in the year when the earth’s axis is tilted neither towards nor away from the sun.
The spring or vernal equinox also represents a time of the year when we begin to experience more life force creative energy. The return of light presents us with an opportunity to take time to release our fears and create new intentions for ourselves.
Essentially, our hours of daylight– the period of time each day between sunrise and sunset– have been growing slightly longer each day since the winter solstice in December. The spring equinox marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness.
One way we can welcome the new season and new possibilities is by doing spring cleaning–purging clutter, dusting nooks and crannies, and cleaning places that we don’t normally clean such as drawers, garages and sheds. Psychologists said that spring cleaning can improve your mood, reduce stress and increase creativity. By cleaning physical spaces, we can also organize our mental space in a way that produces positive and clear thinking.
Spring cleaning and space clearing paves the way for turning over a new leaf. Too much clutter can feel disorganized or chaotic, and it can create feelings of being physically and/or emotionally heavy. Clearing out clothes, shelves and drawers can help you re-establish the life-force flow, and recharge and rebalance energy within your space.
While physically freeing up space in your environment is important for creating balance, the spring equinox is also a perfect time to clear out the sludge that has clogged up your inner workings during the winter just like you change the oil in a car. For the past few years I’ve been doing a detox diet for renewal. “Almost everyone needs to detox and rest their body from time to time,” said Mary Phelps, a certified integrative nutritionist. “A kid in college who eats junk as well as an 80-year-old who has been taking medications for many years can benefit from detoxing.”
There’s a plethora of choices when it comes to detox programs. I’ve done a 10-day plan by Elson Haas, MD who book is The Detox Diet. I also have done a three-day juice cleanse and a week-long ayurvedic cleanse.
The spring equinox signifies a time to clear the space in our emotional and spiritual home as well. We get intentional about the seeds and dreams we want to create in life. We shed winter’s layers of being that no longer serve us. Our authentic nature is ready for a reset.
How to Celebrate Spring Equinox
It starts with setting an intention. Maybe you’d like to attract abundance, health or spiritual growth into the new season.
Create an altar or space dedicated to your intention using shells, statues, colors (green for healing, rice is a symbol of abundance) and good fortune plants and flowers and/or crystals. Light a candle. When we acknowledge and embrace with the sun, moon and earth’s cycle, we naturally cultivate emotional balance, spiritual recalibration, physical awakening and mental clarity.
Connect with nature. Get outside and look around. Try walking barefoot on the earth. Plant seeds. Listen to the birds sing. Journal your dreams. Nourish with healing foods. Shed limiting ways of being. Be playful.
Important in History
Spring Equinox is honored around the world. In shamanic and other cultures where attunement to nature is ingrained in the rhythm of day-to-day life, the equinox is a natural progression of mother earth bringing balance to our world. Without darkness there would be no light.
In Judeo-Christian traditions, spring cleaning dates back to the liberation of Israelites from Egypt, now celebrated as the holiday of Passover. To prepare for Passover, the Torah commands not a crumb of leaven (yeast) in the house. As a result one would thoroughly clean the entire house.
In Buddhist culture spring cleaning also plays a major role in ancient Buddhist purification rituals. It also can be traced back 3,000 years ago in Persian culture. It was believed that sweeping up dust and removing clutter would prevent ill-fortune in the upcoming year.
In yogic tradition it is seen as a day when one has the best possibility of transcending the limitations and compulsions of one’s physical longings. Masculine and feminine are said to be on an even keel that day.
If you are feeling adventurous on March 20th this year, you may want to test a folklore made popular in a 1945 Life magazine article. Legend says that you can stand an egg on its end during the spring equinox. During this shift to more light, have some fun. After all, it’s spring.
Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 25 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy and get fit. Email her with questions or column suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.