Many people wonder when spring actually starts. Does it make its debut on March 1st or does it officially get marked on the calendar later on in March when it is the 'spring equinox'? You're about to find out this and many other interesting facts about the equinox and the proper start of one of the most beautiful and yearned seasons of the year.
First Things First - When Does Spring Start and What Is the First Day of Spring in 2023?
The first day of the 2023 spring season began on Monday, March 20th. The 'spring equinox' in the Northern Hemisphere occurred exactly on this day, specifically at 5:24 PM EDT. For those of you who are not very familiar with the spring equinox and what it is, let's just say for now that it always occurs on March 20. You'll be able to learn more and get some holiday celebration inspo in just a bit.
For many who actually wait for the spring season to arrive and know a little more, the equinox marks the astronomical start of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere. As a curious fact, every year, the equinox date on the civil calendar changes.
The Spring Equinox Explained
In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox across the globe) occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator going south to north. It’s called the 'celestial' equator because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.
On the March equinox, the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight; neither hemisphere is tilted more toward or away from the Sun than the other.
During the winter solstice, the amount of daylight has been growing daily in most regions (the North Pole and the equator being exceptions), but following the spring equinox, many places will see more daylight than darkness in each 24-hour day. Up to the summer solstice in June, when there is the longest time of daylight, the amount of daylight each day will grow.
Fun fact about the equinox! Did you know equinoxes are the only two times each year that the Sun rises due east and sets due west for all of us on earth? While the Sun passes overhead, the tilt of the earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun.
Does Spring Begin on March 1st or on the Equinox?
Would you believe when experts say the answer is both? Depending on how you define 'spring', the answer will vary. The only difference between the two dates is that they are both precise.
Astronomically speaking, the first day of spring is marked by the spring equinox, which falls on March 19, 20, or 21 every year. The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, although clock times reflect a different time zone.
And, as mentioned above, this date only signals spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere while announcing fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere. Interestingly, due to time zone differences, there isn’t a March 21 equinox in mainland U.S. during the entire 21st century! The United States won’t see a March 21 equinox again until 2101.
The Official Spring Flower - Daffodils
The daffodil is the birth flower for the month of March. This flower represents rebirth and renewal and is also known as the 'flower of spring'. Native to the Mediterranean region, these trumpet-shaped flowers are available in various shades of yellow, ranging from pale to vibrant hues. Their delightful fragrance and resilient nature make them a favorite for both indoor and outdoor arrangements.
It is very common to see abundant amounts of yellow flowers when kicking off the spring season. For that reason, here are 'Types of Yellow Flowers and Their Meanings', an article you can read to get informed as to what yellow flowers you want to have this spring.
Fun Ideas to Start Spring Season the Best Way
Here are some ideas for how to spend the first week of spring.
- Watch the arc of the Sun across the sky as it shifts toward the north. Birds are migrating northward, along with the path of the Sun.
- Are you noticing that the days are getting longer? Go outside, catch a break, and look at the sunset!
- Are daffodils poking up their heads? Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day length, too! Not only daffodils but campanulas are also in bloom during spring.
- Do you plan to garden? The first day of spring is a traditional day to start in the garden. Read the article '9 Spring Bulbs You Can Plant in Your Garden This Fall' to see what flowers can beautify your backyard this season.
As you may have also heard, the Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries where people get extremely excited for the spring season because it means that multi-colored tulips will invade fields all over. Read 'Netherlands - The Land of Tulips' to know what tulip fields you should visit and exactly when.