Let’s Talk with Diane A.S. Stuckart

SNAKES ON A PYRAMID
By Diane A.S. Stuckart

Not enough hours in the day. That’s a complaint I often make, and maybe you do, too. Whether it’s because we over-commit, find ourselves distracted, or simply get a late start, too often we go to bed knowing we didn’t accomplish half of that day’s to-do list. But if that’s your situation today, then you are in luck. March 19 is this year’s Vernal (Spring) Equinox, meaning you have as many daytime hours as nighttime hours to get things done today.

The term Equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal” and “night”. It happens twice each year when the sun’s position at the equator creates a day evenly divided into 12 hours each of sunlight and darkness. In addition to Spring Equinox, we also have Autumnal (Fall) Equinox which occurs in late September. (And neither event should be confused with Summer and Winter Solstice, which are the longest and shortest days of the year, respectively.)

I’m a visual person, so when I think about the Equinox, I picture things like a yin-yang symbol, a black-and-white cookie, or even one of those side-by-side shakes from Steak ‘N Shake. But other than a nice feeling of symmetry, what’s the big deal about the Equinox? Well, by tradition, it’s also the first day of Spring. And it is one of four days each year that the fences around Stonehenge in England open to allow folks an up-close and personal visit. (The other three days, not surprisingly, are the two Solstices and the Autumnal Equinox.)

Tradition also has it that Equinox is the only time of the year when you can balance a raw egg on end (which is a myth…see also the balancing broom challenge that was a social media obsession for a few days last month). Plus the Spring Equinox serves as a conclusion to the Full Worm Moon that occurred on March 9. But one of the coolest thing associated with either Equinox—at least, in my opinion—is the descent of the plumed serpent at the Mayan Pyramid Kukulkan at Chichen Itza in Mexico.

Of course, it’s not a real snake that slithers down the pyramid. Rather, it’s a clever effect combining precision architecture with moving light and shadow. The phenomenon can be observed late in the afternoon for a few days around both Spring and Fall Equinoxes. Worshippers and tourists, alike, have gathered at this temple to watch the spectacle since the 9th century, so it definitely counts as tradition. And if you go HERE you can see a video of it without having to travel that far afield. But along with visiting Stonehenge, witnessing the serpent is one of the items on my bucket list that I plan to do one day…assuming when I get there that I have enough hours in the day!

So, do you commemorate Spring Equinox or any other “non-traditional” holiday?

Comments

  1. I loved this post, Diane! I was unaware of the plumed serpent in Chichen Itza. I recognize the Spring Equinox, but being a Florida resident, I appreciate the Fall Equinox more. I will watch the video you recommended. Thanks!

  2. This year we’ve had such a mild winter that it feels like spring has been around for quite some time now. My daffodils started coming up the end of Feb.! Normally we have at least a few big snowstorms throughout the winter. This year we had one snow of less than 2″ and quite a few days in the 60’s and low 70’s. So I feel like I’ve been celebrating spring all winter!

    • Definitely does seem like spring there…but you never know, you might get a surprise snow before it’s over with. Daffodils are lovely…I have amaryllis to let me know spring is here. 🙂

  3. I am always happier at this time of year because daylight is increasing every day. I love the longer days and all the spring growth that results from plants and animals going “yes” to the longer days. At home and practicing social distancing, I’ve been taking pics of spring, which has already sprung in coastal Georgia, and I hope to get them uploaded soon. With so much time on our hands, you’d think we’d all be mega-productive instead, it feels like the other shoe is fixing to drop and it’s hard to focus.

    • Maggie, I understand what you mean about productive, as in not. Though for me part of it is that I’m still working on getting all our tax stuff ready for the accountant. Every year it’s a beating to get that done! So I take any excuse to be distracted.

  4. Nope, I don’t celebrate anything new but I do like it when the days get longer. We have a month or two left before the summer humidity kicks in, so it’s time to enjoy taking walks outdoors.

    • At least now it’s not dark when I get home from work, but I mostly walk around the yard (dirt roads and too many bad drivers and loose dogs, unfortunately). Early morning after sunrise is so nice this time of year.

  5. Barbara Monajem says

    I celebrate the Bahai’ New Year which is the first day of Spring!

  6. cherylhollon says

    Hi Diane. I would LOVE to see this in person, but travel is a bit tricky just now. The video will have to do for now, but I’m putting it on my bucket list. I have been to Stonehenge too many times to count during the three years I lived in England. It’s the first place that our visitors wanted to see. It’s incredible — go as soon as you can.

    • Someday, when all the madness and sickness subsides, I’m going to hop on a plane to…somewhere. But I do refuse to shuffle off this mortal coil without having gone to Stonehenge!