Let’s face it: Winter has left us chilled, pallid and perhaps a little less than energized. But the arrival of the vernal equinox on March 20—the first day of spring for the Northern Hemisphere—brought the promise of warmer temperatures and brighter days.
Historically, pagans aligned this turn in season with the theme of rebirth, both spiritually and agriculturally. Likewise, many pagan deities were associated with renewal and rejuvenation. Egyptians looked to Hathor, daughter of the sun god Ra, who bore a golden solar disk between her horns. Greeks turned to Aphrodite of Cyprus, who is associated with love and fertility. And the Saxons honored Ostara, the goddess of springtime and the namesake of Easter.
Perhaps our ancestors were on to something. (Who doesn’t link the spring and summer months with growth and positive energy?) So take a cue from nature and begin the season of renewal with a visit to a place that celebrates and accentuates the beauty of the morning horizon. Soak in the silhouettes of Cambodian temples in Angkor Wat or peer out at the waters over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Take a walk by India’s Ganges River and see one of the world’s greatest tributes to romance, the Taj Mahal, or travel to the South Pacific archipelago of Tonga, where islanders are among the world’s first to see the sun rise each day. Each of our 11 favorites is bound to be enlightening.