Celebrate spring

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By Special to the Monitor

Calendars show the official first day of spring as the vernal equinox, which this year occurs on Thursday. Somehow the equinoxes never get as much attention as the solstices; they’re not the longest or shortest day of the year. But that’s actually the key to their luster. Equinoxes are the only two days of the year when day and night are the same length everywhere on Earth. Then the next day it shifts, with day lengths varying worldwide until the autumnal equinox in September brings it all together again. That’s a special global aspect of the vernal equinox, but in the northern hemisphere, where there are distinct seasons, the arrival of spring is celebrated. People in many places, and over millennia, have observed the arrival of spring with holidays and traditions related to sunshine, warmth, fertility and rebirth.For Christians, Easter is the spring holiday, and it certainly celebrates rebirth. But where did that name come from? In many countries, Christians use a name that comes from the Hebrew pesach, related to Passover. But in England, Germany and the United States, it is Easter - from the goddess Eostre (Saxon) or Ostara (Teutonic).

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