We love connecting back to nature as much as possible with the kids. By staying in tune with natural cycles and seasons we can improve mental health and well-being. The Spring Equinox is an especially important time as it marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Throughout history this was a powerful time to connect with the Earth in anticipation for the return of the Sun. So let’s learn more about the Spring Equinox and explore 12 wonderful ways to celebrate with your kids.
Celebrating the Spring Equinox with Kids
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What is the Spring Equinox?
First we need to explain exactly what it is we are celebrating!
The spring equinox marks the beginning of spring. As the first day of spring, it is an important time in many cultures and is associated with themes of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. In many cultures, it is celebrated with rituals and festivals that honor the changing seasons and the natural cycles of the earth.
What Does Equinox Mean?
The term “equinox” comes from the Latin words “aequus” which means “equal”, and “nox” which means “night”. The word “equinox” refers to the time of the year when the length of day and night is approximately equal, meaning that each lasts for roughly 12 hours. Think of Equinox – Equal. Easy, right?
When is the Spring Equinox?
The spring equinox occurs around March 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere and around September 22 or 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the moment when the sun is directly above the equator and day and night are approximately equal in length. The farther you live from the equator the more pronounced the difference in day and night length will be. There are some places that don’t see the sun at all during the winter months. So you can see why the Spring Equinox is such an important time in the calendar. We are literally welcoming the return of the Sun!
The spring equinox occurs half way between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice. The Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The Summer Solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year.
Other Names for Spring Equinox
The spring equinox is also known by several other names, depending on the culture and tradition. Some of the most common names include:
- Vernal Equinox: “Vernal” is Latin for “spring,” so this name literally means “spring equinox.”
- Ostara: This is a pagan festival that celebrates the spring equinox and the goddess of fertility, Ostara.
- Alban Eilir: This is the Druidic name for the spring equinox, which means “Light of the Earth.”
- Nouruz: This is the Persian New Year and is celebrated on the spring equinox.
- Shunbun no Hi: This is the Japanese name for the spring equinox, which means “spring equinox day.”
- Chunfen: This is the Chinese name for the spring equinox, which means “spring begins.”
No matter what name was used across cultures, one common theme is that they all celebrate the arrival of spring and the renewal of the earth.
The Science of the Spring Equinox
The spring equinox occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is neither tilted towards nor away from the sun. The sun is directly over the equator, which is an imaginary line that goes around the middle of Earth. This alignment happens twice a year, around March 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere and around September 22 or 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the exact date and time of the equinox varies slightly from year to year because the length of a year is not precisely 365 days.
Historical Significance of the Spring Equinox
The spring equinox has been an important event in many cultures throughout history.
In ancient times, it was often celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth. As societies moved from the cold and barrenness of winter, spring meant the welcoming of new growth, migratory animals returning, and a new growing season. Long before we could go to the store and buy whatever food we needed because it could be flown in from anywhere in the world, this change of the season was indeed a time to celebrate and prepare for a new season.
Let’s dig into more reasons why the Spring Equinox has so much historical significance.
Agricultural significance: In many ancient cultures, the spring equinox marked the beginning of the planting season, and farmers would use the equinox as a guide for when to plant their crops. This made it an important time for ensuring a successful harvest.
Religious significance: The spring equinox has been celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal in many religious traditions. For example, it is associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Christianity and the festival of Passover in Judaism.
Cultural significance: The spring equinox has been celebrated with festivals and rituals in many cultures throughout history. These celebrations often mark the beginning of a new year, the end of winter, and the arrival of spring.
Astronomical significance: The spring equinox marks the moment when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is neither tilted away nor towards the sun, resulting in equal amounts of daylight and darkness. This astronomical event has been observed and studied by astronomers and scientists for thousands of years, and has helped to advance our understanding of the solar system and the universe.
Celebrating Spring Equinox
The spring equinox is celebrated in various ways in different cultures and traditions around the world. Here are some examples:
- Easter: In many Christian cultures, the spring equinox is associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is celebrated as Easter.
- Nowruz: Nowruz is the Persian New Year and is celebrated on the spring equinox. It is a 13-day festival that involves cleaning homes, gathering with family and friends, and eating traditional foods.
- Holi: Holi is a Hindu festival that is celebrated around the spring equinox. It is known as the “Festival of Colors” and involves throwing colored powders and water at each other.
- Ostara: Ostara is a pagan festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. It involves decorating eggs and may have inspired the modern tradition of Easter eggs.
- Dionysus Festival: The Dionysus festival was one of the most important events of the year in ancient Greece. Dionysus, who was the god of fertility, wine, theater, and rebirth, was honored every spring with feasts, drinking, and general over-the-top festivities.
- Songkran: In Thailand, spring equinox finds the locals reaching for water guns, buckets, pressure hoses, or any other creative way to drench their neighbors in water. Based on the Sanskrit word for “astrological passage,” Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, and more widely known as the Spring Water Festival. Festivities last for days and involve going to a Buddhist monastery, visiting elders, dancing in the streets to loud music, and, of course, throwing copious amounts of water at each other. Water gun fight anyone?
These are just a few of the festivals held around the world and throughout history to honour the arrival of spring. All of these festivals feature a common theme of new beginnings and renewal.
Spring Equinox Printable
Looking for a printable activity pack to use for Spring Equinox? Check out this resource in the STEAM Powered Family Shop. It includes information pages, cool facts from around the world, plus a variety of activity pages.
Or grab the entire Solstice and Equinox Bundle here. That way you will be ready for not only the Spring Equinox, but also Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice and Fall Equinox.
How to Celebrate Spring Equinox with Kids
Here are some ideas to help you celebrate the spring equinox at home or at school.
Take a Hike
Getting out into nature and enjoying the changing of the seasons is the perfect way to celebrate spring. Take a hike and find those new buds that are just starting to erupt on the trees. Watch as migratory birds return. Smell the return of green to the land. Doing this as a family or as a class is a wonderful way to welcome spring.
Make a Wheel of the Year Craft
One of my son’s favourite crafts we have ever made was his Wheel of the Year Craft. He LOVED this wheel and would reference it with every changing month and season. Best of all it spins, so he could always know exactly where we were in the constant turn of the wheel of the year.
Seasons Science Experiment
This fun and easy seasons science experiment is a great way for kids to learn about how the movement of the Earth in relation to the Sun affects our seasons.
Make Seed Bombs
Spring is the arrival of a new growing season. Make seed bombs and launchers and welcome the arrival of a new growing season for local plants.
Make Seed Paper
Spread the love by making beautiful seed paper as a class so students can gift them to someone special. Why not make seed paper and write your special wishes for this new season and share them with a friend?
Build a Bird House
Put those STEM skills to work and build a birdhouse to welcome the birds home and give them a safe place to build their nests and lay their eggs.
Build a Bird Feeder
If you are building a bird house, why not also build a bird feeder?
Make a Circuit Flower
Bring spring inside by making gorgeous flowers that light up. Kids will love making these chromatography flowers that have a simple circuit hidden inside so they glow.
Spring is all about eggs! You can decorate eggs with an all natural dye that you make yourself.
Make Gorgeous Egg Geodes
Want to up your egg decorating skills? Make some stunning Egg Geodes that are filled with sparkling crystals. All created through the power of science.
Make Edible Egg Geodes
Love making geodes? Why not make an edible Egg Geode? These taste so good and look absolutely stunning. Students will learn the science behind growing crystals with sugar.
Make Eggs in a Basket Treats
This easy, no bake recipe is a hit with kids! Using my mother’s heritage recipe from England, make coconut ice nests and fill them with candy eggs. Yum!
Make a Spring Playdough
Need a playdough center idea for spring? Make a beautiful, bright coloured playdough and let the kids create and explore. We love this sunflower themed playdough play centre idea.
Make a Crayon Candle
Spring is the return of the light (sunlight). Celebrate this by making candles. You can make a really fun rainbow candle out of crayons that is perfect for spring.
Visit a Historical Celebration Site
Spring Equinox has been celebrated around the world and across cultures. If you live near a historical celebration site, why not plan a visit.
Take a Sensory Break in Nature
Sense Detectives is a really fun activity I did with my kids in the summer, but you an easily adapt it for any season. We went out into nature and brought back a variety of items. Then while blindfolded the kids had to try and guess what the items were using their senses of smell, hearing and finally touch.
Make New from Old by Making Paper
Spring is about new beginnings and many people use it as a time to declutter. Why not take all of those paper scraps and use them to make new craft paper?
Make a Rain Gauge
Spring rains are known around the world. So why not make a simple rain gauge so you can track this years rainfall?
Nature is always working to establish balance. In this Walking Rainbow Experiment not only are we working with water (a big theme at spring equinox), but we are also working with rainbows and natural balance. Rainbows are probably the most popular spring theme for kids. These activity is a favourite.
Water Gun Fight
Take some inspiration from Thailand and have a big water gun fight to celebrate the arrival of spring. You can easily modify our Nerf War Obstacle Course to be a Water Gun Battlefield. What a fun way to kick off spring!
Celebrate Rainbow Science
One of the favourite themes for students everywhere for spring is rainbows. So why not try your hand at one of these fun Rainbow Science Experiment and Projects.
Happy Spring Equinox!
Looking for something else? Check out our resource on celebrating the Winter Solstice.