Today is the March/Spring Equinox. This equinox marks the moment where the Sun crosses the equator and usually occurs between March 19-21 every year. Both the March and September equinoxes are when the Sun shines directly on the equator making night and day nearly equal.
The March equinox is the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere (summer into fall). Various cultures celebrate March equinox as a time of rebirth. Many spring festivals are timed to coincide with the equinox and some religious events (Passover and Easter) use specific calculations based on the equinox to help determine the exact day of the event.
Though the equinox marks the changing of the seasons, it is quite common for winter effects to continue in many places far until May or even June.
March is the third month on both the old Julian and current Gregorian calendar. It is the month that begins spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. March is believed to be derived from the Roman god Mars (Greek equivalent Ares). Before the advent of the Julian calendar, Romans considered March the first month of the new year. The March equinox is usually around March 21-22. Many spring festivals take place in March. Passover and Easter may take place in March, but not always as it is dependent upon very specific calculations and can change from year to year. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. If it falls on a Friday, Catholics are given dispensation to eat meat on that day (at least in Ireland and in areas where the feast is celebrated). The famous Ides of March (March 15) was once a day to pay debts in Rome but it became infamously associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar on that day in 44 BC.
Daylight savings time begins in the U.S. and Canada on the second Sunday in March. March has two birthstones that reflect courage: aquamarine and bloodstone. The flower for March is the daffodil.
Spring officially begins today at 12:57 PM EDT (16:57 UTC). Equinoxes occur twice a year, in March and September. When these events happen, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly the same. However below the equator the season flips so it is the beginning of autumn in Sydney, Australia. The first full day of spring (or autumn) will be 21 Mar 2014.