Friday, 20 March 2009

What Day Does Spring Start?

Well according to tradition spring starts on the night of 20/21 March. However the Meteorological Office classes the first day of spring as 1 March and a bit of a row has erupted now over the official date.

Some disgruntled MPs are questioning who has had the authority to change the date. Stuart Bell, Labour MP for Middlesbrough says:

"Spring starts on March 20/21 and if the Met Office are not aware of this simple fact, it reflects a casual approach to facts, which is all too inherent today."

“Historically spring starts on the day of the vernal equinox, which usually occurs on the night of 20/21 March. Vernal comes originally from the Latin word for bloom and refers to the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, this equinox marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

An equinox is a time when the nights are as long as the days and the vernal equinox is recognised the world over as the start of the new astrological cycle.

But does that necessarily make it the start of spring? After all, summer is commonly decreed to start on 21 June - the Summer Solstice - yet the following day is known as MID-summer's day.

And since when has the prevailing weather had anything to do with it? Parts of the country may be ankle-deep in snow but cast your mind back three months and the talk was why, in mid-December, the weather felt like spring.

The Met Office, meanwhile, has little time for celestial patterns and historical precedent. It picked 1 March for simplicity's sake, choosing to slot the four seasons neatly into the 12 months... June, July and August are the summer months; September, October and November autumn, and so on.“

Mmmm, a very pragmatic approach!

Extract from BBC website