East York Light It Up parade part of spring celebrations around the world

East York residents welcomed the brighter days to come after the long months of winter with a lantern celebration

a lantern at the lLght It Up parade hangs from a tree, with the sun shining behind it
A lantern hangs from a tree at the Light It Up parade on March 19 in Dentonia Park. (Photo courtesy EastEndArts.) 

East York residents celebrated the spring equinox with a lantern celebration in Dentonia Park.

Music, stilt walkers and glowing lanterns were on hand March 19 as East York locals and their Crescent Town neighbours welcomed the brighter days to come after the long months of winter with the Light It Up parade.

“This brings hope into our hearts,” said Joanna Benson from her porch. “I am so glad the parade is back this year, kids love it and is also a signal that warm days are coming, too.”

Light It Up parade is a community spring celebration organized by East End Arts, Shadowland Theatre and Workman Arts since 2022.

“On Spring Equinox, day and night are equal, light and dark are in perfect balance – it’s a time to rejoice!” said the East End Arts news release. “Let’s celebrate the return of the sun, of balance, and of the love that got us through the dark of another long, cold winter by filling the east end with light – inside lanterns.”

The free parade started at 7:15 p.m at the east end of Dentonia Park in the parking lot and ended in the Crescent Town corridor. 

Two people at the Light up Parade .
East York residents at the Light up Parade. March 19, 2023 (Maria Rodelo/Toronto Observer)

Lanterns also shone on porches, balconies and windows for those unable to join the parade or who felt more comfortable participating from their own homes.

Special lantern workshops took place on March 10, March 15, and March 18 at the Crescent Town Club, so people could make their own lanterns.

Videos on how to do your own lantern at home were also provided on the East End Art website.

Oiled Lantern workshop video by Anne Barber of Shadowland Theatre.

What is the spring equinox?

The word “equinox” comes from the Latin words aequi that means “equal” and nox, meaning “night.” The spring equinox marks the solar start of both the spring season in the northern hemisphere and fall seasons in the south. This means that, in all areas throughout the world, both the length of daytime and nighttime are exactly equal.

In some parts of the world, it is also known as march equinox or vernal equinox.  The word vernal, is also a Latin word which means “spring.”

Wha happens during the vernal equinox ?

The Earth rotates along an imaginary line, called the axis, that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and this rotation is what gives us day and night.

According to NASA, the axis moves at a 23.5 degree angle. As a result, for half of the year’s orbit around the sun, will receive more sunlight than the other, for this reason seasons are initiated by the variation in sunlight.

During the spring equinox, the Northern Hemisphere like North America, Euro and Asia tilts with more daylight and warmer temperatures. While in the Southern Hemisphere, summer transitions to autumn, with colder temperature and reduced hours of daylight. 

Depending on the year, the spring equinox lands during the days of March 19, 20 or 21. This year’s vernal equinox fell on March 20.

How  is spring equinox celebrated around the world?

The spring equinox has been celebrated for centuries by different cultures around the world for different reasons and in different ways. It represents more than the first day of spring; it has also become a symbol of fertility and new beginnings.

Shunbun no Hi, is a national spring equinox holiday in Japan since 1948. This celebration is part of a week-long festival. People in Japan celebrate by cleaning their homes as symbolism of new start and rebirth, visiting their loved ones graves, getting together with family.

For farmers and agriculture it is a special day to pray for their future crops in the upcoming season.

In Mexico, “Festival de primaveras” or spring festival, is celebrated in many parts of Mexico and in ancient Mayan civilizations, the equinox has special meaning. At Chichen Itzá, many people gather to watch the sun that shadows a large snake against the EL Castillo pyramid.

Chichen Itza pyramid in Mexico ( Maria Rodelo/ Toronto Observer)

In addition, millions of people around the world celebrate Nowruz or also known as the Iranian/Persian New Year. It’s no coincidence that it falls on the first day of spring equinox, as the Iranian calendar is a solar calendar that is determined through astronomical observation of the sun.

The celebrations include gathering with family and friends by decorating a table with seven items that represent from fertility, rebirth to good health and lighting fireworks or jumping over a bonfire as representation of the “victory of spring over darkness.” 

About this article

Posted: Mar 20 2023 8:00 am
Filed under: Arts & Life Community work News