Home World Europe News Spring Equinox 2014: Official beginning of springtime celebrated among Stonehenge stones

Spring Equinox 2014: Official beginning of springtime celebrated among Stonehenge stones


March Equinox or the official start of spring sees druids and pagans marking the season of renewal at dawn among Stonehenge’s standing stones, the best known prehistoric monument in Europe.

Druids, pagans and revelers gathered at dawn by Stonehenge’s ancient stones in England to mark the Vernal Equinox, the official beginning of springtime.

Twice a year, the earth’s axis is angled so that the world gets an equal amount of daylight and night, a highly-significant event in the pagan calendar.

At the Spring Equinox, the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. All over the world, day and night are of equal length.

As the earth’s axis begins to tilt further in the coming days and weeks, the northern hemisphere will receive more direct sunlight, leading to spring and summer’s warmer temperatures.

Druids and pagans mark Spring Equinox among Stonehenge's standing stones

Druids and pagans mark Spring Equinox among Stonehenge’s standing stones

The occasion helps mark important celebrations around the world, including Easter, Passover and Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The Autumnal Equinox will occur on September 22.

The term “equinox” derives from the Latin aequues (equal) and nox (night), although strictly speaking, an equinox is not a day but a point in time. The days themselves when day and night are equal are referred to as equiluxes.

Traditionally, druids and pagans congregate at Stonehenge and other standing stone sites to greet the dawn and watch the sun rise while performing fertility rites.

English Heritage opened Stonehenge from 5.45 a.m. until 8.30 a.m. to allow worshippers to take part in the event to mark the season of renewal.

The druids and pagans were celebrating the ancient Saxon goddess Eostre, who symbolizes fertility and new beginnings.

The goddess is symbolized by eggs, representing new life, and rabbits or hares, for fertility. The name is also the root of the term given to the female hormone oestrogen.

Some regard elements of the Easter celebrations as deriving from this tradition, with the Christian festival marked by the “Easter Bunny” bringing us gifts of chocolate eggs.

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