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Set your alarms, Cook County. Spring officially arrives at 4:24pm today

Mar 20, 2023 08:53AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Susanne Alexander 

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - March 20, 2023

Set your alarm for 4:24pm central time today, because that’s when those of us in Cook County & Grand Portage officially start spring. 

March 20 (at precisely 4:24pm) marks the vernal equinox, which is not only exciting because of the season change mentioned above, but also because it is one of two days each year where the “earth’s axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, resulting in a "nearly" equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes”, according to the National Weather Service. In simpler terms, the sun is shining light directly on the equator. 

The result is an (approximate) equal 12 hours of daylight and darkness. (Technically, due to the earth’s atmosphere, we actually receive slightly more daylight.)  Starting on March 21, earth’s Northern Hemisphere will gain sunlight each day until the summer solstice in June. 

Image: NASA

Here are some additional fun facts about the spring (vernal) equinox:

  • The equinox is also when the sun rises due east and sets due west (learn more)

  • Due to the angle of the sun against the horizon, sunsets occur faster than other parts of the year (learn more)

  • There are many myths that revolve around the day (can you really balance a broom and an egg?)

  • The day is also associated with the “First point of Aries” (learn more)

  • “Equinox” is Latin for “equal night”

  • “Vernal” in Latin translates to “new” and “fresh” 

The welcoming of spring is celebrated around the world (and has been for centuries). 

For example, at the exact moment of the spring equinox, Iranians celebrate ‘Nowruz’, which means “new day” - something that has been traced back to at least 3,000 years ago. The general themes of the celebration are “health, justice, and respect for the earth”.

For Native Americans, the change from winter to spring marked a time of transition - whether it was moving with migrating animals or welcoming the return of vegetation and other organisms.  According to one source, “tribes recognize this time of year as the time to gather, confer with one another, and make decisions that affect the community as a whole.”

For three days before and three days after the equinox, people in Japan celebrate “Higan”, an important time when people reflect upon themselves and their actions. 

In addition, Higan is also (and originally started as) a Buddhist holiday that acknowledges ancestors and loved ones who have passed. 

To learn about more spring celebrations around the world, visit: , and 

Whether you celebrate the overall equinox/spring themes of rebirth, renew, and refresh, or just appreciate the longer days coming, the start of spring is something to welcome! 

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here