6 Surprising facts about Spring
Spring is the season for ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth. The first day of Spring, the vernal equinox, has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The term vernal is Latin for “spring” and equinox is Latin for “equal night“.
1. Spring was called Lent in Old English. Starting in the 14th century, this season was called “springing time”—a reference to plants “springing” from the ground. In the 15th century this was abbreviated to “spring-time,” and then further shortened in the 16th century to just “spring.”
2. The growing season in England is now a whole month longer compared to the average for 1961-1990.
3. All cultures celebrate the spring in some way, looking forward to the burst of growth in plants and the birth of baby animals, signalling more food to eat. Ancient cultures recognized the equinox with their architecture. Stonehenge functioned as both a pagan site of worship and a celestial observatory; in Egypt, the Great Sphinx points towards the rising sun on the spring equinox; and the setting sun creates a triangular shadow on the El Castillo pyramid that looks like a descending snake, or the Mayan feather serpent god Kukulkan.
4. Spring fever is a real syndrome. It refers to restlessness, daydreaming, and increased sexual appetite. While the exact cause is unclear, scientists believe that warmer temperatures, increased light, more exercise, and more bare skin influence hormone levels.
5. The spring and fall equinoxes are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west. On the first day of spring, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight. A person at the South Pole would experience the start of six months of darkness.
6. The first day of spring does not always fall on March 20th as the earth does not circle the sun in exactly 365 days (actually 365.42). This means that eventually Easter would occur in midwinter. Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar in 1582, thereby continuing the tradition of the early church by keeping the equinoxes more or less at the same time each year: 19-21 March.
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