Spring Equinox 2019: The First Day of Spring

March Equinox Date | Vernal Equinox

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
Welcome Spring Equinox

The spring equinox (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox) falls on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 5:58 P.M. EDT. This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Enjoy our spring equinox facts, folklore, photos, and more!

When is the First Day of Spring?

Spring begins with the vernal equinox, which always occurs on March 19, 20, or 21. 

Year Spring Equinox (Northern Hemisphere)
2019 Wednesday, March 20, at 5:58 P.M. EDT
2020 Thursday, March 19, at 11:49 P.M. EDT
2021 Saturday, March 20, at 5:37 A.M. EDT

What Does the March Equinox Mean?

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). 

On the equinox, the length of day and night is nearly equal in all parts of the world. 

With the equinox, enjoy the increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets. See your personalized Sun rise and set calculator.

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Image: On the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally. 

What Happens on the March Equinox?

On the March Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator”  because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.

If you were standing on the equator, the Sun would pass directly overhead on its way north. 

Equinoxes are the only two times a year that Sun only 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. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.)

After the Spring equinox, the Norther Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun, which is why we start to get longer, sunnier days

Read more about the reason for the seasons.

Crocus field spring
Crocuses are a sure sign of spring!

Spring Equinox FAQs

Q: Is The First Day of Spring Always March 20?

A: No, it’s not always March 20. And your answer also depends on your definition of the “first day of spring.”  Both are accurate; they’re just a different perspective. We’ll explain …

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, though our clock times reflect a different time zone. And, as mentioned above, this date only signals spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere; it announces 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! Plus, we won’t see a March 21 in the world again until 2101.

Meteorologically speaking, the official first day of spring is March 1 (and the last is May 31). Weather scientists divide the year into quarters to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem, as these dates can vary slightly each year.

Daffodils
Did you know that daffodils are one of March’s Birth Flowers?

Q: Are Day and Night Equal on the Equinox?

A: No, but they are close to equal. In reality, day and night are not exactly equal at the equinox for two reasons: First, daytime begins the moment any part of the Sun is over the horizon, and it is not over until the last part of the Sun has set. If the Sun were to shrink to a starlike point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.’

Read about more fun facts in the Almanac Astronomer’s post, “March Equinox Oddities.”

Q: According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on end on the equinox. Is this true?

A: Folklore or not, this egg trick sounded like fun to us. One spring, a few minutes before the vernal equinox, several Almanac editors tried this trick. For a full workday, 17 out of 24 eggs stood standing. Three days later, we tried this trick again and found similar results. Perhaps 3 days after the equinox was still too near. Perhaps the equinox has nothing to do with it. Perhaps we just don’t like to take ourselves too seriously! Try this yourself and let us know what happens.

Spring bird bath

Q: Which Day Has the Most Sunlight in North America?

A:  The Summer or June Solstice is called the “longest” day of the year! The date of the longest day actually varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year, and the local time zone. By “longest day,” we mean the day that gets the most daylight (versus darkness).  See our Summer Solstice page.

How Do You Celebrate the Vernal Equinox?

The vernal equinox signals new beginnings and nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere! Many cultures celebrate spring festivals, like Easter and Passover.

Observe nature around you!

  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth. In fact, the March Full Moon is called “The Full Worm Moon” for this reason.
  • Notice 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.
  • Speaking of birds, did you know that the increasing sunlight is what triggers birds to sing? Cool, eh? Enjoy our Bird Songs page.
  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers are sensitive to temperature and day-length, too! Since ancient days, people have used them as indicators of when the weather is right for planting. For example: Blooming crocus are your cue to plant radishes, parsnips, and spinach. See more of nature’s signs.
  • Of course, the longer days bring warmer weather! Both we and the animals around us strip off our clothes and heavy coats!
  • Ready, set, plant! March is time to start gardens and sow seeds in many regions. See the Best Planting Dates according to your local frost dates.

Ancient Equinox Traditions: The Snake of Sunlight

Scientific explanation aside, our ancestors were more connected to the Sun than we are today. They observed its pathway across the sky; they tracked how the sunrise, sunset, and day length changed, using the Sun (and Moon) as a clock and calendar.

There are many ancient sites that mark the equinoxes (and solstices). One of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was at Chichen Itza in Mexico. The Mayans built a huge pyramid around the year A.D. 1000.  The play of the Sun’s light on it signals the beginning of the seasons. On the spring equinox, it looks like a huge snake is slithering down the steps. Mayans called this day “the return of the Sun serpent.”

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See more examples of ancient seasonal markers.

Spring Verse

  • One swallow does not make a spring.
  • Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.
  • In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.
  • Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.
  • Spring-time sweet!
    The whole Earth smiles, thy coming to greet. 

Learn More About the First Days of Seasons

The First Days of the Seasons are marked by four astronomical events:

Look around! Observe! What are the signs of spring in your region? Please share in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

The seasons are concepts and

The seasons are concepts and require beings capable of conceptualizing to exist as such - ie "come to be called" what they are by humans. The natural occurrences that are referenced by the concepts were certainly there before they were conceptualized as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. But to say they existed as such before they were conceived is certainly silly.
Just get used to the fact that human beings rely on their senses (as, ultimately, do scientists) to determine what season they are in. And, yes, their onset varies. Astronomical events occur in seasons that had long been and still are defined without reference to them. The summer solstice is an astronomical event that occurs in Summer as commonly understood. Likewise the vernal equinox in Spring. "Vernal" means "in Spring". The seasons do not take their names or meanings from those astronomical events. The astronomical events take their names (though not their meaning) from the seasons.

I completely agree with your

I completely agree with your last line. Of course the events take the names from what humans have experienced (as do all things we have given names to). But certainly the seasons would still happen if there were no beings here to experience them, or give them names. Obviously we rely on our senses for everything we do or think, however this is way off point. Earlier posts suggested that the sun cannot be highest in the sky on the first day of summer, that it has to be the middle of the summer. I would think you would assign the mid point to warmest average temperatures. Your argument is true if you are imagining the season to be a bell curve of solar angle. The season can start with the sun having its highest angle above the horizon, just as a marathon starts with the greatest distance left to be run. As stated earlier, it takes time for the earth to absorb the direct radiation and warm, or conversely to lose heat as the radiation becomes more indirect. I suppose it is best to agree that we do not agree with the semantics. At the end of the day, neither one of our lives will be worse for our personal definition of the seasons. I will continue to hold to the scientific definition, the right one :) and you will continue to hold to your definition. As is often said, "the great thing about science is it's true, whether you believe it or not."

Do you really imagine that I

Do you really imagine that I doubt the science of the equinoxes and solstices? Boy, have you got me wrong! The point is that you can not logically make these the definitive basis for how we understand the seasons. Seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter - are human constructs that reference all manner of natural phenomena, of which the equinoxes and solstices are but a small part. That is a fact that real scientists perfectly well understand. It is true, whether you believe it or not.

Thanks, Celtblood. I used the

Thanks, Celtblood. I used the weather example to reinforce my point, which just confused it.I'll try to explain my thoughts on it.
On Mar.20st the days and nights are equal and continue to get longer until June. In my opinion, all else aside, June marks the end of the season because the days begin to become shorter, the beginning of Autumn. In Sept, again, days are equal and continue until the end of Winter in December. In Dec the days begin getting longer, at last, the start of Spring, in March which of course will lead to Summer. I'm sure that most have a differing opinions. But just because everyone calls it Spring doesn't change the logic. Have a great Summer. Peace

Indeed it is so; just as when

Indeed it is so; just as when in June the news commentators wax poetically upon the start of Summer, I pine; technically it is the beginning of Winter, as the days start getting shorter from the Solstice on. Then again, at the Winter Solstice, when everyone is grey and downtrodden, I rejoice as the days creep longer toward Summer!

Oh spring, where are you?

Oh spring, where are you? The calendar says only eight more days, but with three feet of snow on the ground and more falling, I think you won't get here until June.

The idea that the vernal

The idea that the vernal equinox is the first day of Spring is nonsense. If it were so, common expressions like 'Spring has come early' and 'it's a late Spring this year' would have no meaning since the equinox does not move about. The concept of Spring has nothing to do with the vernal equinox or any other astrological events. It is the opposite of Fall. It is when flowers spring forth and leaves open after Winter - ' For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land', Song of Solomon, 2:11-12.
In the Norther Hemisphere, the conventional period of Spring is the Months of March, April and May, after which comes Summer.

Vernal Equinox is the first

Vernal Equinox is the first day of Spring based on astronomical data. The same applies to other astronomical seasons, it may not feel at all like Spring, but the position of the Sun and the Earth dictate the astronomical time frame, not the weather conditions in a particular area. If we went by how the temperatures feel and what the weather conditions are, there would be no rhyme nor reason to calculating the seasons. It might be Spring in one state and Winter in the next, while further South it might already be Summer.

I can only repeat that the

I can only repeat that the idea of Spring and when it begins has nothing to do with the Vernal Equinox but has to do with the renewal of life on Earth for both flora and fauna, The *Vernal* Equinox takes its name from Spring in the commonly accepted sense, not the reverse. ('Vernal' means Spring.) It happens *in" the Spring, not at its beginning. The same is true of the Summer Solstice, which is on 'Mid-Summer Day' - ie in the midst of Summer, not its beginning. And, of course, Summer in the Northern hemisphere is Winter in the Southern, whatever name is given to the solstice. This obsession with astronomical definitions of the seasons is a modern dogma. I would rather call it *astrological* because of its connections with supposedly ancient rituals like those at Stonehenge (and even more in Celtic lands), most of which originated in the Nineteenth Century as part of the Romantic Movement in literature, art and music. There is certainly no science in it, only scientism, which we should be better off without.

You are exactly correct

You are exactly correct regarding the Summer Solstice, and are apparently one of the few who really "gets" that it falls in the middle of Summer, and is not by any means when Summer "starts". (Even this site has yet to get it right, and they should be the ones to show all the other almanacs what is right, all things considered.)

As in the case of the Vernal Equinox, and considering the fact that those of us in the 21st century have, to a very large degree, completely lost touch with our agrarian roots and often misunderstand or misinterpret the seasonal cycles, many tend to confuse the Solstices with the start of the seasons. Actually, the Solstices mark the middle or high point (Summer) and low point (Winter) of light and darkness. WS is the shortest point of daylight hours in the year and SS is the point of longest light, the apex of the Summer season, which actually begins on the first of May, just as Winter begins on the first of November.

As in the case of the Vernal Equinox, these are dates are based on the astronomical movements of the Earth and planets, so the weather may not seem in accordance with the true beginning of the season. I agree with you in that the Vernal Equinox may yet be cold and snowy, or even icy, and that it may not feel like Spring until up in April.

The astronomical model offers us a well regulated system by which to mark the seasonal changes, while the local weather patterns bring the seasons home at different times for different places.

I'm really not sure about where you get the notion that astronomy is not scientific, or that the ancients did not observe the astronomical Solstice (if you read up on it, Stonehenge serves as a calendar of sorts, and is amazingly accurate at marking the Summer Solstice due to its' design).

Alas, everyone has an opinion, and you are more than welcome to follow your own.

We may have lost touch with

We may have lost touch with our agrarian roots but I don't think we have stopped noticing when flowers and leaves start appearing, birds start nesting, and many other signs of the beginning of Spring in the normal human sense. And we still talk about Spring being early or late, so we can't be thinking about the Vernal Equinox when we say it.
I did not say that Astronomy was not a science, which it plainly is. But Astrology is certainly not a science (even if some think it is), and as you may see from other posts (including some of your own), the cycle of the seasons is commonly associated with astrological interpretations of astronomical events. That is not science, it is scientism - the pretense of a scientific basis for such interpretations.

Actually, that was my point,

Actually, that was my point, in that one can only look to the astronomical designations for these seasonal cycles, since the blooming of leaves and flowers and the nesting of birds occurs at so many different times, in so many different places. To clarify, I understand your point regarding the observable manifestation of the seasons, I was just saying the astronomical points remain the accurate measure of those seasons.

The same applies to the modern tendency to think of the Summer Solstice as the "beginning" of the Summer season. Most modern calendars, and even most TV meteorologists, will say 21 June, for example, is when Summer starts. As we have both stated, this is dead wrong. The Summer cannot start when the Sun and the seasonal tides begin to wane, it's a contradiction. We'd may as well say Christmas starts on Christmas night and not on Christmas morning. At least on that point, it seems we are both in absolute agreement.

I would also have to argue that astrology does indeed have its' scientific elements, especially considering the fact that our modern astronomy developed from the old science of astrology, same as our modern pharmacology developed from the old practises of herbal healing, and metallurgy developed from alchemy. There was a time when these practises went hand in hand, and were one in the same. Since astrology is based on the astronomical positions of the planets and their movements, I would call that a scientific element, even if it's only based on the observation of the movements. The interpretation of those movements and their alleged effect on us are, admittedly, debatable and not reliable science in the modern sense, but charting horoscopes by calculating the correct positions of the stars and planets, I would think, is indeed an effort founded in science.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I really don't mean to be argumentative.

You miss the point entirely.

You miss the point entirely. Spring is *defined* as the season when flowers and leaves (re)appear, birds nest, etc. That is what Spring means. And, yes, it starts at different times in different places and in different years. For that reason the start of Spring can not be fixed by any astronomical event such as the vernal equinox, which will occur *at some time* in Spring, just as the Summer Solstice occurs at some time in Summer. That is how human beings relate to the world around them. Most know nothing about equinoxes or solstices, though no doubt they pick up references to them in their diaries, newspapers and other media and regard them in much the same way as their "star signs" and other astrological nonsense.

It seems to me that you have

It seems to me that you have some rather extreme anger issues when it comes to astrology, and even astronomy. That is your choice, and you are welcome to it.

Let us, then, simply agree to disagree and leave it at that. I think we've danced long enough, and there really isn't much left to add. So you go ahead and consider the first day of Spring to be whenever the weather suits and the flowers happen to bloom in your particular area, and I'll continue to use the equinox as the sign post that serves as the harbinger of Spring in my part of the world.

I am curious about one other point. If, as so often happens here in the lower Midwest, the flowers happen to bloom one week, with the leaves coming on and the birds singing, then the next week we get hit with, say, three inches of snow and some ice, does that mean it's suddenly Winter again? Do the seasons just switch back and forth in your part of the world, sort of like an Ed Wood movie, where within an hour it can be day time, then switch to night, and then suddenly switch back to day time again?

I agree that there is no

I agree that there is no point in continuing with this discourse. But contrary to what you think about my position, far from being in any way against astronomy or science generally, my concern is to defend Science - real SCience - against those who abuse it by trying to scientise common everyday human experience. That is scientism.
Your own post should have made it clear to you that the beginning of Spring can not be precisely defined, even in one place, let alone across the globe, and it is absurd to pretend that it can. The precision of the date of the vernal equinox apparently gives you the false impression that it can. Is that because you can't stomach the imprecision and general messiness of real life and find deceptive refuge in the precision of Science?

All I can say is that, in my

All I can say is that, in my humble opinion, the astronomical points mark the seasons, even though the seasonal time frames may indeed have variable weather patterns in different areas and regions. The position of the Sun and the seasonal positions of the Earth are, to my thinking, the true markers of the seasonal tides. The weather in our particular region may not fit the season precisely (and may indeed vary greatly), but the seasonal changes are there, none the less. I think you're attempting to redefine science in a very unscientific way, by focusing on the immediate climatic conditions outside your door while virtually ignoring the astronomical cycles which bring the seasonal changes in the first place.

Again, that is your right, if that's how you choose to see it all. It just seems mighty illogical to prefer such an imbalanced and inconsistent way of measuring the seasons.

Again, I ask-- if you're going to mark the seasons based on the weather you see outside and in your immediate area, do they alternate back and forth, as in from Spring back to Winter, then back to Spring? What if we hit Summer in May and get a sudden surge of Arctic air which results in snow? Are those areas which receive snow suddenly back to Winter, while the others are still in early Summer, or if it got cooler but they didn't get snow, do they go back to Spring until it gets warmer? I am sincerely curious about your views on this.

I would say the beginning of Spring can, indeed, be precisely defined by astronomical calculations, though (obviously) the local weather conditions remain variable from one region to another, and even from one area to another within each region. You may call it scientism and say it isn't truly scientific, but it seems pretty scientific to me.

I take issue with saying this

I take issue with saying this is the beginning of Spring. I'm in central Calif and in June and the end of the season, the temperature can be in the triple digits and the days are getting longer. As I see it, if the temperature now is mild, not freezing, and getting hotter, then Spring is past. When Spring starts and Winter ends,the temperature is usually at it's coldest and starts getting warmer and longer. In June, the FIRST DAY OF AUTUMN, the days start getting shorter and cooler.
I don't know if this explains my logic and I'm sure most people won't agree, including the goverment. Have a great FIRST FEW DAYS OF SUMMER!

I love this website. Feel

I love this website. Feel like I have stumbled onto a treasure. I'm out the door for my broom right now. My son and I did the egg in Atlanta years ago. Fun.

I live in New York State and

I live in New York State and I feed the blue jays and northern cardinals that live around here year round. When it becomes very cold and snowy in the winter they do not sing except for an occasional call note. They eat but they do not sing! When Spring is about to begin the blue jays and cardinals will begin to sing and sing and sing. I adore them. Also, the beautiful crocus will begin blooming because crocus is an early bloomer and surely to me another sign of Spring. The scent in the air in the woods near my home changes from a scent in the winter which to me smells like snow all the time to a lighter, scent of renewed greenery. The summer scent seems rather heavy when bogged down by too much humidity and the autumn smells like the colorful leaves that accumulate on the ground from maples and oaks and give off a musky but pleasant odor. I love all the seasons and I feel fortunate to live in a region that has the ever changing beauty of all four seasons. I don't think I could live happily in a place that has but one long season such as always hot.

Anything that has multiple

Anything that has multiple points of contact with a hard surface should be able to be balanced and be freestanding. A broom with hard bristles should be easier to balance than one with soft pliable bristles. Also, the juxtaposition of the handle to the bristles can make a difference but should be able to be overcome. I fail to see the sun's affect on this issue except if its done outdoors and the heat of the sun softens the bristles. You also have to factor in air movement and direction in order to overcome the effect this may have on the freestanding broom. The story of the broom levitation is remarkable, if true, but I also wonder what he was smoking at the time.

On the first day of Spring, a

On the first day of Spring, a male bluebird kept repeatedly coming to my sliding glass patio door and pecking at it. I hope he was the "bluebird of happiness."

Indeed it is,a sign from

Indeed it is,a sign from Heaven....it means that you and me are blessed chosen creatures of angels above,who take this appearance of peacefull birds for the bestowed ones that receive such honorable visitors,I have one too,cames every morning for seed birds I place at my window...but beware of black birds crowling that crah,crah crah sound...they mean disgrace,defeat,pestilences and perils aproaching....a good prayer to saint Anselm will scary these menaces away,back to darknesses...

Nay, the dark birds are as

Nay, the dark birds are as beautiful as canaries. They signal nothing evil nor ominous nor pestilential... that is Hollywood and rumor. Ravens and Crows in particular are very intelligent birds, Corvids, who are clever, can imitate many other sounds, and solve puzzles. The day that several arrived on my apple tree, got my attention by caw caw! then said as plain as day, "hello?!" was to me the same blessing as pretty birds are to some. They come back and are very gentle, they eat hard boiled eggs, peanuts, and cooked chicken, and dunk them in the birdbath. One made an eggdrop soup out of it (I had to put boiling water, it was 15 below, it didn't stay hot long!) They hold an intelligence to the level of roughly a 3 year old child. And... they chase off the hawks that will prey upon your songbirds at feeders. So be kind to the dark beauties, they have a place here for us in their hearts too.

I got up this morning, I

I got up this morning, I believe I dusted my broom

Willy, you may not be aware

Willy, you may not be aware of the origin of "dusting my broom". The blues song actually goes: I got up this morning and I believe I'll dust my broom." It is my understanding that "DUSTING ONE'S BROOM' has a sinister connotation in that it may mean a disciplinary action by a man hitting a woman with a broom for being unfaithful. I wonder how true this is... Have to look in the blues history books.

How silly,willy....I dust my

How silly,willy....I dust my broom at my wife every day,except on her birthday....it´s a way to sending strong message to remember the fragile sex where they belong: to the Master and to the kitchen...I do not know why I castigate her,but she surely does.....

No Wonder I feel so good. Its

No Wonder I feel so good. Its My Birthday and Ill cry if I want to. Have lots of Spring in my Step this morning. Good morning To All.... Have a Wonderful Day!

Happy Birthday, Drew!

Happy Birthday, Drew!

I could never balance my

I could never balance my checkbook until today (vernal equinox 2013) and I was standing in my kitchen when I did it! It must all be true. ;)

Diamonds really sparkle today

Diamonds really sparkle today but the egg trick next to the broom after morning but this was just silly as we sat and waited for the turn but it never happened so we just went back to the broom and there it was and Stacy said she saw it. Too weird...

Explain that Rick??? LOL...good luck Sean

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