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It’s Spring! So…Should you Celebrate the Equinox?

Lily of the ValleyToday is the first day of spring because it is the day of the vernal (spring) equinox.

Okay, just a quick review of your high school astronomy.  In summer and winter we have solstices — the summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.  In the autumn and spring we have equinoxes, when the day and night are the same length.  So once this spring equinox passes, the days, which have been gradually lenthening since the winter solstice, will continue to lengthen until the summer solstice (longest day of the year), after which the days will start to become shorter and the nights longer, until the winter solstice (longest night of the year), after which the days will begin to lengthen once again.

This is all very neat stuff.  We live in a way cool universe with all kinds of interesting things to observe and learn about.

So then, should we celebrate the spring equinox?

Let’s put it another way:  Is there anything wrong with a Catholic celebrating the summer solstice, or the winter solstice, or the equinoxes of spring and fall?  What about the new moon, or the full moon?  Would it be okay to celebrate those, to have a new moon party, for example?

The answer might surprise you.

You can celebrate anything.  Celebrate the leaves falling off the oak tree in your backyard, or the first crocus of spring, or the first snow fall of winter.  Celebrate sunspots or rainbows or the running of the salmon or the flowing of the sap.  Celebrate the swallows returning to Capistrano or the Monarchs flying to Mexico.  You are free and welcome to celebrate whatever you want.

Knock yourself out.  Throw a party, have a cookout, or stay out dancing all night — go ahead — have a great time.  Just don’t get confused — because no matter how much you celebrate any of these natural events, they won’t become supernatural.  They won’t become sacred.

Not objectively.  Objectively sacred means that something has been set apart for the worship of God; it has been hallowed.

This is why, when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, God took the feasts of new moons and planting and harvesting and first fruits — all the things that every agrarian people on earth celebrated — and elevated them so that they became infused with sacred meaning.  They pointed beyond the natural order to the saving acts of God.

Modern day “pagans” like to boast that they are restoring the sense of sacred to these natural markers of time.  Wrong.  By celebrating them as merely the astronomical events they are, they remove their sacred meaning.  They remove the very thing that makes these natural phenomena point beyond themselves.  But celebrate them if you want to.

Or you could just celebrate the feasts of the Catholic Church — truly sacred events that commemorate the saving acts of God in the history of the Church and in the lives of the saints. I’d wager that would keep you busy enough.


Mary Kochan, former Senior Editor of CatholicExchange, is Editor-at-Large  of CatholicLane.com.

Raised as a  third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Mary worked her way backwards through the Protestant Reformation to enter the Catholic Church on Trinity Sunday, 1996.  Mary has spoken in many settings, to groups large and small, on the topic of destructive cultism and has been a guest on both local and national radio programs. To arrange for Mary to speak at your event, you may contact her at kochanmar@gmail.com.

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  • Claire

    Brilliant article as usual! Between our beloved new pope and St. Patrick’s Day, we have done so much celebrating in the past week that it wouldn’t even occur to me to celebrate the spring Equinox (especially because we have gotten 6 inches of snow in the past 24 hours!).

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    Mary,
    I am delighted that you are still writing
    excellent and thoughtful articles here.

    Should we celebrate the Spring Equinox? YES.

    “This is the day which the Lord has made;
    Let us rejoice and be glad in it “(NRSV. Psalm
    118:24).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMk1jUU8Hx0

  • goral

    We should tone down celebrations during Lent, as it is suppose to be a somber and contemplative season. Events should have an ebb and flow. If we’re always celebrating then we’re never really celebrating.

  • Noel Fitzpatrick

    Goral,
    I always enjoy your posts as you are so clear in your views, which I do
    not always agree on, but I think neither of us ever veer from Catholic
    teaching.

    Reading this discussion I am reminded of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by
    prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to
    God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NRSV, Phil4:4-7).

    Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord (NRSV, Phil 3:1).