I found a wonderful website talking about the First Day of Spring 2016: Vernal Equinox - It's the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Here are some excerpts from their site.
|Painting by Maggie Peacock at Carolina Creations|
Astronomically speaking, the equinox (March 19 or 20 this year) marks spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere (whereas it announces fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere). The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, even if our clock times reflect a different time zone.
Did You Know: 2016 will bring the earliest arrival of spring of our lifetime (thus far!) in the Northern Hemisphere.
Meteorologically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere, the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31. Summer begins on June 1; autumn, September 1; and winter, December 1.
Weather scientists divide the year into quarters this way 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.
|Raven by Jim and Tori Mullan|
Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem because these dates can vary slightly each year.
What is an Equinox?
At the Vernal Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic.
All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. The name equinox comes from Latin words which mean “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night).
Enjoy the increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets.
On the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally because 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.)
|Painting by Donna Robertson|
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 daylength changed, using the Sun (and Moon) as a clock and calendar. If you have ever been to Stonehenge or Machu Picchu, you’ll see examples of ancient seasonal markers.
The vernal equinox signals the beginning of nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere!
Worms begin to emerge from the earth. Even the March 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 triggers bird song?
|Jewelry by Lesley|
Trees, shrubs and flowers are sensitive to temperature and daylength, 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.
|Glass flowers by Scott|
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.
Thank you Almanac!