Origins of the spring equinox and its religious meanings.

The word “equinox” traces its root from Latin, and it means “equal night.” Equinox is that time of year when daytime and nighttime hours are approximately equal, each being roughly 12-hours long. In the northern hemisphere, the day is known as the spring or the vernal equinox since it marks the beginning of spring and end of winter. The southern hemisphere, on the other hand, knows it as autumnal equinox because it marks the beginning of autumn and end of summer.

The ways religions commemorate the spring equinox vary. Three religious themes have been associated with the vernal equinox.

1. Conception and pregnancy leading to the birth of Jesus Christ (Yeshua of Nazareth).

The Bible contains internal evidence that Yeshua of Nazareth was born in the Fall of the year. It has been suggested that early Christians set Christmas at the appropriate time of the winter solstice to match existing Pagan celebrations. This places Jesus’ conception nine months earlier coinciding with the time of the spring equinox.

2. The victory of a god of light over the powers of darkness.

Light in this scenario meaning life, birth or resurrection and darkness meaning death.

3. The descent of god into the underworld for three days.

This has been referred to by mythologists as “the harrowing of Hell.”

Equinox, Pagan celebrations, and Easter; Are they linked?

Pagan religions in the ancient Mediterranean region had a major seasonal day to mark the spring equinox. One the Pagan religions, Cybele, believe that Attis, Phrygian fertility goddess’ partner had been born via a virgin birth. Attis is said to have died and resurrected each year during the period March 22 to March 25, time of the vernal equinox.

Christian worship of Jesus’ death and resurrection and Pagan worship of Attis were both commemorated in ancient times. Both occasions were celebrated on the same date and this brought about a feud as to whose god was the true one.

Today, no links exist between the Attis legend and Jesus Christ. Most, if not all Christians regard the Attis legend as a Pagan myth. The death and resurrection of Jesus are regarded by modern day Christians as a description of real events, unrelated to earlier Pagan traditions.

Easter Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon from March 20, the date of the spring equinox. This is according to the Roman Catholic church and Protestant denominations calendars. Easter was anciently linked to sun and moon worship. Orthodox churches, on the other hand, celebrate Easter in line with the Passover.

Spring equinox is an important day in both Neo and Shinto-Paganism, and Buddhism. Equinox is celebrated on March 20. Japanese also set the day aside to usher in the spring and to them, the day is marked to symbolize the celebration of new life. The Japanese call the day Ostara. Contrary to Japanese belief, Neopagans believe that the day is a time to think of death. Both Japanese and Neopagans use the day to pray for fertility and prosperity, the spring equinox is an important time for farmers to pray to the Kami for crops and blessings upon the year ahead.


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