Norwegian word of the day: Vårjevndøgn

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Vårjevndøgn
Caption photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

As spring and summer approach, you can expect the days to become longer and warmer. 


Vårjevndøgn is the Norwegian word for the spring equinox. Jevndøgn means equinox, and vår means spring. 

On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration (this is true at the same time all over the planet, not just in Norway).

The word used in English, equinox, comes from Latin: aequus (equal) and nox (night). The Norwegian term is directly related to Old English and Norse. Jevn is an adjective similar to "even" and can be used to describe a physical quality (en jevn overflate is "an even surface"), as well as to mean "equal".

Døgn is a useful Norwegian word that doesn't have an exact English translation but can both mean "a day" or "a 24-hour period". 


It's usually used in preference to the more common dag ("day") when talking about the amount of time within a day and not to the day in general. So, for example, a store that is open 24 hours a day is described as døgnåpent, "24-hour-open". 

The word vår comes from the Old Norse várr. Várr originated from Proto-Indo European *wésr̥, which is actually also the root of the Latin word for spring, vēr. You can see words originating from Proto-Indo European *wésr̥ in multiple other languages, such as Ancient Greek ἔαρ (éar, meaning "spring"), Lithuanian vasara ("summer"), Sanskrit वसर् (vasar, "morning") and वसन्त (vasantá, "spring"), Persian بهار‎ ‎ (bahâr, "spring"), Old Armenian գարուն (garun, "spring"), and Russian весна́ (vesná, "spring"). 

The Latin adjective to describe something spring-like or something related to spring then became vernālis or, more commonly, vērnus, which is where another English term for the spring equinox, the vernal equinox, comes from. 

Why do I need to know this? 

Today (March 20th, 2023) marks the spring equinox, although it is typically on the 21st. Therefore, from that date onwards, days will be lighter than they are darker. 

The Norwegian word for solstice is solhverv, from sol (sun) and hverv, an archaic word for "turning".


I dag er det jevndøgn, når dag og natt er like lange.

Today is the equinox when day and night are the same length


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