From: Editor, BBC Earth
Published March 25, 2011 06:00 PM

Spring has Sprung: New from BBC Earth!

"If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring" (from the musical Pickwick, by Leslie Bricusse/Cyril Ornadel)

The time has come! 

As the earth turns and the sun shines it's life giving light directly on the equator, something very special happens. It's called the Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring! (At least for those in the North Temperate Zone!)

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This astronomical event that happens twice a year, marks the point at which the length of day and night are almost equal in all parts of the world. Note the use of almost because for places farther from the equator, days are naturally longer and the sun takes longer to rise and set. Making their day lengths almost, but not absolutely, equal.
In any case, the March equinox is celebrated across many cultures as a time of rebirth, renewal and a time to rejoice! A number of religious holidays and festivals take place around this time of year, and in some parts of the world it even marks the coming of an entirely New Year; such as the astronomical Persian calendar in Tehran.

And it's not just those gazing at the stars who are waiting for nature to burst back into activity, but also those who work the earth too! Perhaps a prime reason why humans look to the stars for guidance and signs of change at this time, is because they see so much of it taking place right at their feet! And it’s no feat of gardeners and farmers alone, but mother-nature herself who gets to work.

But just because it's spring, it doesn't necessarily mean every landscape is bursting with the vivid greens of new leaves. For some places in the North Temperate zone like in the high Arctic, it's simply the arrival of the sun after months of darkness that is the cause of celebration.

Naturally, as the Latin 'equi'  is to be equal suggests, the equinox is not just about the warmest months approaching but also the coldest. For the South Temperate Zone such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, a different season is on its way and so for them, nature presents a burst of autumnal color rather than a new bud!

Whichever part of the annual cycle, we look forward to the motion of the sun and all the changes that come thereof! 

Check out this amazing video at: http://bbcearth.posterous.com/the-start-of-a-new-season

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