Home LifestyleArt and Culture Chichén Itzá is ready for the Spring Equinox

Chichén Itzá is ready for the Spring Equinox

by Yucatan Times
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In 2024, the March equinox happens on March 19 at 11:06 P.M. EDT. This falls on a Tuesday and is the astronomical beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere.

Modern technology marks this year’s spring equinox on March 19 at exactly 9:06 p.m. Mexico City time. However, in Mexico’s Mesoamerican archeological sites, the most important celestial event is the sun’s position on March 20 or 21.

Past and present come together as thousands of people flock to see the sun interact with monumental structures and continue honoring each site’s ancient spiritual significance. 

Spring Equinox in Chichén Itzá

The most famous archaeological site for watching the equinox is Chichén Itzá in Yucatán state, in no small part because of the particular light and shadow show created by El Castillo, the pyramid that stands in the center of the site. The pyramid, built between the 8th and 12th centuries A.D., is itself a gigantic calendar. 

Its four sides each have 91 steps, meaning that if we count its crowning platform as a step, the pyramid has 365 steps: one for each day of the year on the Maya Haab’s solar calendar. Each side has 18 terraces, reflecting the number of “uinal,” or 20-day months of the Haab’ — like the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Maya believed that the five leftover days at the end of the year were unlucky, calling them the Wayeb’, or “nameless days.” Each of El Castillo’s facades contains 52 carved panels — the same number of years in the Maya calendar round.

Photo: pexels

At exactly 3:24 p.m. on March 21, a series of triangular shadows will appear on the pyramid’s northwest stairs, and descend towards the serpent head at the base of the structure, creating the shape of a giant snake crawling down the pyramid. This event called the Descent of Kulkulcan — the Plumed Serpent, a deity found across Mesoamerican cultures — was understood as the arrival of Kukulcan in his role as a fertility god, letting the ancient Itzás know that it was time to prepare the earth for the coming rains. 

Entrance fees at Chichén Itzá are going up.

So, if you thought that the spring equinox only ever occurred on March 21, you may be dating yourself. The civil calendar date of the equinox continues to shift every year.

TYT Newsroom

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