Twice a year the Sun sits vertically above the equator, giving us nearly equal day and night everywhere on the planet. This year, March 20 is the vernal equinox. Here are nine ways to celebrate with your (roughly) 12 hours of daylight.
1. STAND AN EGG ON END
Eggs are often associated with the spring equinox because of their standing as a symbol of birth and fertility, and the myth that one can be balanced on its end only on that day likely relates to the day's re-balance of day and night. But don't worry: If you're too busy to experiment with egg balancing on the day of the equinox, you can certainly try it the following day: it takes practice, but eggs can be balanced any day of the year.
2. HONOR DIONYSUS WITH A BREAD PHALLUS
Dionysus, the god of fertility, wine, flowering plants, poetry, and theater, is often associated with phalluses (for fertility) and bread (because of ritual meals involving the consumption of bread and wine). To celebrate the coming of spring, modern Pagans offer up tables of wine, flowers, and phallic symbols made of food.
3. CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR
Countries like Iran, India, and Turkey, among many other areas of Asia, observe the New Year on the spring equinox, generally in observance of Nowruz (which means "new day" in Persian). Specific religions also adhere to the holy day, including the Bahá'í Faith.
4. TAKE A TRIP TO MEXICO
That's where you'll find Chichén Itzá (one of the New 7 Wonders of the World) and the ancient Mayan pyramid, El Castillo, where the Return of the Sun Serpent occurs on the northern balastraud every equinox.
5. HAVE A FAMILY REUNION
Called Shunbun no hi, the Japanese spend the week of the vernal equinox visiting their hometowns, spending time with family, and tending to ancestral graves.
6. TELL A STORY
March 20 is World Storytelling Day in the northern hemisphere (the southern hemisphere celebrates this for the autumn equinox), so take this opportunity to share stories of your family, childhood, or this year's theme, "Transformation."
7. GIVE YOUR MOTHER SOME LOVE
Many Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria celebrate Mother's Day on the same day as the equinox. But even if you live elsewhere, we're sure your mom would appreciate a call.
8. VISIT A MEGALITHIC MONUMENT
You know, like Stonehenge. On the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes, Stonehenge is open to visitors (and the local Druids) who want to witness the sunrise over the stones.
9. FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHY THE EASTER BUNNY LAYS EGGS
This comes from an ancient Saxon tale about their lunar (or spring/summer) goddess, Eostre. One story generally goes that Eostre found an injured bird and transformed it into a hare to save its life; the transformation was incomplete, and in gratitude for saving her, the hare laid eggs and decorated them as gifts to Eostre (or, alternately, the hare found an egg and decorated it for the goddess). More likely, it was that rabbits and eggs were both seen as symbols of fertility, and Eostre was the goddess representing spring and fertility. Parts of the myth were eventually absorbed into the more modern Easter celebrations, as both festivals occurred around the same time.
A version of this story originally ran in 2009.