Fire and dance: Celebrating the Spring equinox

  • A drummer dressed in a pre-hispanic costume celebrates the Spring Equinox as the sun comes out from behind the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, March 21, 1999.
  • Thousands visit the Pyramid of the Sun during the Spring Equinox in Teotihuacan, Mexico on March 20, 2006. Visitors believe the structure’s energy during that particular period can be transmitted to people. 
  • A shaman of the small northern Shortsy nation during a ceremony celebrating their New Year in the Spring Equinox in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on March 22, 2008. 
  • Nahuath-Pipil women participate in a ceremony to celebrate the spring equinox in the ceremonial temple of San Andres, 30 kms west of San Salvador on March 20, 2011. 
  • People stand around a sacred fire as offerings of candles, bread and honey burn during a ceremony to celebrate the Spring Equinox in the Kaminaljuyu archaeological zone at Guatemala City, March 21, 2012. 
  • Performers dressed in ancient costumes of the Qing Dynasty rehearse a sun worship ritual at Ritan Park in Beijing, China, March 20, 2014. The ritual was held during the Spring Equinox for emperors to pay their respects to the sun. 
  • A performer plays Emperor during a re-enactment of an ancient ceremony of Qing Dynasty Emperors praying at Ritan Park which holds the ceremony of “fete day” to mark the Spring Equinox on March 21, 2011 in Beijing, China. 
  • Iraqi Kurds holding flames walk up a mountain bearing a large Kurdish flag in the Kurdish town of Akra in Iraq’s Mosul region as they celebrate the Noruz spring festival on March 20, 2014. 
  • Iraqi Kurds celebrate the Noruz in the town of Akra in Iraq’s Mosul region, March 20, 2014. The Persian New Year is an ancient Zoroastrian tradition, marked by the Spring Equinox and is calculated by the lunar calendar. 
  • Iranians shop for Noruz, the new year, which coincides with the Spring Equinox, in Tehran on March 20, 2010. Buying goldfish and having a celebratory feast are Zoroastrian tradition still celebrated even after Islam. 
  • Afghans gather for a new year ceremony at the Sakhi Shrine in Kabul on March 20, 2012. Celebrations mark the start of Noruz, the Afghan new year, the Spring Equinox and the solar year of 1390. 
  • An Afghan girl during Noruz celebrations, in Herat on March 20, 2012. The UN in 2010 recognized the International Day of Noruz, describing it as a festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3000 years. 
  • Horsemen take part in a Kok-boru, or goat dragging, competition as part of Navruz, an ancient holiday marking the Spring Equinox, celebrations in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, March 21, 2010. 
  • Georgians celebrate Nowruz, the new year, in the Eurasian country of Georgia, March 2012. 
  • Georgians celebrate Nowruz, the new year, in the Eurasian country of Georgia, March 2012. 
  • Belarus women, wearing traditional costumes, sing songs outside Minsk, in the village of Ozertso on March 21, 2010 to celebrate the Spring Equinox. 
  • Belarus women, wearing traditional costumes, sing songs around a bonfire outside Minsk, in the village of Ozertso on March 21, 2010 to celebrate the Spring Equinox. 
  • Youths participate in the Spring Equinox celebration in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 24, 2012. It is believed that the gravitational balance during the Spring Equinox makes it possible to balance an egg. 
  • Youths and students participate in the Spring Equinox celebration at Sventaragio Valley in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 24, 2012. 
  • Surfers enjoy the Severn Bore along the River Severn on March 2, 2010 in Gloucestershire, England. Surfers from around the world flock to ride the 4 ft wave, which forms during the Spring Equinox. 
  • A man riding on an inflatable chair enjoys the Severn Bore along the River Severn on March 2, 2010 in Gloucestershire, England. The phenomenon takes place every morning for two or three days during the Spring Equinox. 
  • Druids wait for the sun to rise as they celebrate the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge on March 20, 2009. For druids, Spring Equinox celebrates the renewed life of the Earth  and an increase in the powers of their God and Goddess. 
  • Druids watch the sunrise as they celebrate the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge on March 20, 2009 near Amesbury, Wiltshire, England, where hundreds of druids and pagans were granted special access to the ancient monument. 
  • Chief Druid Dr. Thomas Maughan, centre left, and the Ancient Druid Order perform their annual Spring Equinox ceremony at Tower Hill, London, where such a ritual dates back to pre-Christian times, on March 21, 1965. 
  • Puzzled onlookers watching the annual Spring Equinox ceremony at Tower Hill in London, on March 20, 1981. 

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The vernal equinox is an annual marker of the beginning of spring, taking place when the sun shines directly on the equator, passing over it from south to north, and carving the day into equal parts darkness and light.

The solar event typically occurs on either March 19th, 20th or 21st, and is celebrated around the world.

This year’s equinox, on Friday, March 20, is considered extraordinary: it will be at the center of a rare collision of celestial events, complete with a solar eclipse and a supermoon, which will both also emerge over the skies. 

Above are photos of spring-welcoming rituals from London to Mexico, Kyrgyzstan to Iraq, China and Georgia. Around the globe, druids, zoroastrians, Muslims, pagans and many others will celebrate with rituals of fire, alters made of flowers, national games and traditional dance.  

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography

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