Equinox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: An equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the plane of Earth's equator passes the center of the Sun. At this time the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.
When Julius Caesar established his calendar in 45 BC he set 25 March as the spring equinox. Since a Julian year (365.25 days) is slightly longer than an actual year the calendar drifted with respect to the equinox, such that the equinox was occurring on about 21 March in AD 300 and by AD 1500 it had reached 11 March.
This drift induced Pope Gregory XIII to create a modern Gregorian calendar. The Pope wanted to restore the edicts concerning the date of Easter of the Council of Nicaea of AD 325. (Incidentally, the date of Easter itself is fixed by an approximation of lunar cycles used in the Hebraic calendar, but according to the historian Bede the English name "Easter" comes from a pagan celebration by the Germanic tribes of the vernal (spring) equinox.) So the shift in the date of the equinox that occurred between the 4th and the 16th centuries was annulled with the Gregorian calendar, but nothing was done for the first four centuries of the Julian calendar. The days of 29 February of the years AD 100, AD 200, AD 300, and the day created by the irregular application of leap years between the assassination of Caesar and the decree of Augustus re-arranging the calendar in AD 8, remained in effect. This moved the equinox four days earlier than in Caesar's time.