March 20 marks the Northern Hemisphere's vernal equinox, the day when the hours of daylight are equal to the hours of darkness. It's also the first day of spring.
Google kicked off the new season by transforming its homepage logo into a tribute to the rebirth that springtime offers. Replacing the letters in the iconic company logo are flowers, critters and a truck transporting landscaping shrubbery.
The doodle was inspired by Finnish textile design house Marimekko, the Google Doodle team told the Washington Post. Indeed, the Post points out that the doodle's blue flower (which appears in place of the "G" in "Google") and colorful critters (in place of the second "O" and the "E") look to be directly influenced by Marimekko prints.
The U.S. Naval Observatory lays out the astronomical characteristics that make the equinox unique among days of the year:
On the day of an equinox, the geometric center of the Sun's disk crosses the equator, and this point is above the horizon for 12 hours everywhere on the Earth. However, the Sun is not simply a geometric point. Sunrise is defined as the instant when the leading edge of the Sun's disk becomes visible on the horizon, whereas sunset is the instant when the trailing edge of the disk disappears below the horizon. These are the moments of first and last direct sunlight. At these times the center of the disk is below the horizon. Furthermore, atmospheric refraction causes the Sun's disk to appear higher in the sky than it would if the Earth had no atmosphere.
The vernal equinox is usually observed with festivities around the world each year. According to The Guardian, "The date is particularly significant for pagans, many of whom carry out rituals, while others indulge in activities such as egg races, egg hunts and egg eating and egg painting. A number of Spring harvest festivals are celebrated at this time while Vernal Equinox Day is a national holiday in Japan, when families visit graves and hold reunions."
Take a look at the Marimekko-insprired doodle (below).
Check out the slideshow to see some of our favorite Google Doodles ever.
On February 14th, 2013, Google celebrated both <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/14/george-ferris_n_2685966.html" target="_hplink">Valentine's Day and George Ferris's 154th birthday</a> with this interactive doodle.
On November 7, 2011<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/marie-curie-google-doodle_n_1079560.html" target="_hplink"> Google celebrated</a> what would have been the 144th birthday of the mother of radioactivity, two-time Nobel Prize winning scientist Marie Curie.
Google celebrated International Women's Day 2013 with <a href="http://www.google.com/doodles/womens-day-2013" target="_hplink">this doodle by Betsy Bauer</a>.
One of the great and super nerdy Google doodles, this Jul 23, 2009 logo celebrates the annual Comic-Con conference.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/how-to-play-guitar-on-google_n_873895.html" target="_hplink">Google introduced</a> a super cool doodle on June 9, 2011, an interactive electric guitar to honor the 96th birthday of legendary musician and guitar innovator Les Paul. The Google guitar could play 10 notes from users' computer screen.
On February 6th, 2013, Google celebrated archeologist <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/mary-leakey_n_2630671.html" target="_hplink">Mary Leakey's 100th birthday</a>.
Google celebrated astronomer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/nicolaus-copernicus-google-doodle_n_2717419.html" target="_hplink">Copernicus's 540th birthday</a> on February 19th, 2013.
On January 18, 2012, Google joined Wikipedia, Reddit and thousands of other sites for a c<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/18/sopa-pipa-google-logo-doodle_n_1212187.html" target="_hplink">ontent blackout in protest of proposed Congressional legislation</a> calling for strict enforcement of U.S. copyright law online. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) drew the ire of web users who feared these bills would lead to unchecked web censorship. As a result of the massive protest, key Congressmen who had previously supported the bills reversed their positions; SOPA and PIPA were tabled indefinitely.
The <a href="http://www.google.com/logos/logos98-3.html" target="_hplink">first-ever Google doodle</a> was a simple stick figure behind the second "O" in the logo on Aug. 30, 1998. It represented the founders' recent trip to the Burning Man festival.
On March 1, 2010 Google honored the 366th birthday of Sir Isaac Newton with its first-ever animated Google Doodle.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/happy-halloween-google-doodle-pumpkins-video_n_1066989.html" target="_hplink">Google wished</a> users "Happy Halloween" Oct. 31 with a new video doodle that shows a team of crafty Googlers carving six enormous pumpkins to spell out the search engine's name.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/24/muppets-google-doodle-jim-henson_n_979011.html#s371509&title=Jim_Henson_Google" target="_hplink">On Sept. 24, 2011</a> Google's homepage featured a medley of Muppets, honoring the 75th anniversary of the birthday of late Muppets creator Jim Henson. On the interactive logo users could play "puppeteer" by clicking on the colored circles beneath each of the characters, which opened their mouths, and the Muppets followed the cursor with their eyes when you moved your mouse. One of the characters would throw his glasses into the air, and another actually ate a fellow Muppet.
Google honored <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/jackie-robinson-google-doodle_n_2589665.html" target="_hplink">baseball legend and civil rights activist Jackie Robinson</a> on his 94th birthday on January 31st, 2013.
On Christmas Eve 2011, Google posted a holiday-themed doodle that serenaded visitors with "Jingle Bells".
This Google Doodle went live for some on September 4, paying tribute to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who would have celebrated his 65th birthday on September 5.
Google's Oct. 12, 2011 doodle illustration featured a brightly colored interactive tribute to artist Arthur "Art" Clokey, who would have turned 90 on October 12. In place of the company's logo, red, yellow, blue and green balls of clay bounced around and sprang to life at the click of a mouse, in an homage to Gumby, Clokey's best known animated character.
In honor of Pacman's 30th anniversary on May 21, 2010, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/25/google-pacman-doodle-devo_n_588605.html" target="_hplink">Google gave its logo</a> over to the iconic arcade game with the first ever playable Google Doodle. The logo had 255 levels.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/11/martha-graham-dance-google-logo_n_860402.html" target="_hplink">Google celebrated</a> the 117th birthday of dancer Martha Graham -- known throughout the 20th Century as a pioneer of contemporary dance -- with an amazing animated doodle on July 11, 2011.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/09/roger-hargreaves-google-logo-little-men-little-miss_n_859264.html#s276080&title=Little_Miss_Sunshine" target="_hplink">Google celebrated</a> what would have been the 76th birthday of Roger Hargreaves, creator of the "Little Men" and "Little Miss" series, on May 9, 2011. Google featured a colorful cycle of doodles depicting several of Hargreaves' animated characters, including Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Tickle and Mr. Messy.
Google celebrated its 13th anniversary on September 27, 2011, with a simple, birthday-themed doodle and a scrapbook-style doodle featuring the company's logo letters dressed in a birthday hats and sitting around presents and a birthday cake. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/googles-13th-birthday-doodle-logo_n_982798.html" target="_hplink">Check out more photos here</a>.
On Mother's Day May 8th, Google tipped its hat to moms everywhere with a spring-themed logo with a purple flower in place of the "L."
Google celebrated the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011 with a Google doodle depicting a festively illustrated panorama of Westminster Abbey, where the royal knot was tied.
On April 22, Earth Day's 41st birthday, Google celebrated the occasion with a colorful animated doodle. Running your mouse over the illustration's playful animal characters brought the scene to life.
On April 16, 2011 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/15/charlie-chaplin-google-doodle-_n_849587.html" target="_hplink">Google celebrated</a> what would have been the 122nd birthday of one of film's greatest stars, Charlie Chaplin, with a black and white video doodle.
On 12 April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter outer space. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/google-doodle-yuri-gagarin-first-man-in-space_n_847914.html" target="_hplink">Google's commemorative logo</a> was dedicated to Gagarin's flight into space.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/08/john-lennon-s-birthday_n_756064.html" target="_hplink">Google celebrated</a> what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday on On Oct. 9, 2010 with the first-ever Google Doodle video. The video played a hand-drawn animated version of Lennon's song "Imagine."