Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Autumnal Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox

Equinox is a sign of fall (autumn) in the northern hemisphere

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator.

However, even if this is widely accepted, it isn't entirely true. In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight

The September equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south.

This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth's axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth's axis tilts neither away from nor towards the Sun

From here on out, 
the temperatures begin to drop 
and the days start to get shorter than the nights

The September equinox coincides with many cultural events, religious observances and customs.

It's also called the "spring equinox" in the southern hemisphere.

September Equinox Customs

Ancient Greece

In many cultures, the September equinox is a sign of fall (autumn) in the northern hemisphere. In Greek mythology fall is associated with when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband Hades. It was supposedly a good time to enact rituals for protection and security as well as reflect on successes or failures from the previous months.


Aboriginal Australians have, for a long time, had a good knowledge of astronomy and the seasons. Events like the September equinox, which is during the spring in Australia, played a major role in oral traditions in Indigenous Australian culture.

Moon Festival

In China the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated around the time of the September equinox. It celebrates the abundance of the summer's harvest and one of the main foods is the mooncake filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit.   

   On this day, Chinese like to gather together at night under the moon eating moon cakes to represent union and harmony since the traditional moon cakes have the same shape of the moon – circle. .


Higan, or Higan-e, is a week of Buddhist services observed in Japan during both the September and March equinoxes. Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period (1868-1912). Higan means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana. It is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.


The Christian church replaced many early Pagan equinox celebrations with Christianized observances. For example, Michaelmas (also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels), on September 29, fell near the September equinox.

Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, honours the greatest of all the archangels, the principal angelic warrior, who defeated Lucifer in the war in heaven. In some traditions this day is the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, including Gabriel, the messenger and Raphael, the healer. Michael is protector against the dark of night, administrator of cosmic intelligence, guardian of souls.

Pagan celebration: Mabon

On the autumnal equinox, many pagans celebrate Mabon as one of the eight Sabbats (a celebration based on the cycles of the sun). Mabon celebrates the second harvest and the start of winter preparations. It is the time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.

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