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The autumn equinox is coming up later this month. You may think of it as simply the beginning of fall, but did you know that this event is celebrated in different ways by different cultures? This week, I’ve found some interesting facts about the autumnal equinox that will help you appreciate the changing seasons even more.
- Different Year, Different Day: The autumnal equinox falls on Friday, Sept. 22, this year. It usually takes place on the 22nd or 23rd of September. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, the autumnal equinox took place on Sept. 21 in 1931. The last time that happened before then was in the year 1000! Looking into the future, the autumnal equinox will occur on Sept. 21 in 2092 and 2096. The autumnal equinox will take place on Sept. 24 in 2303. Be sure to mark your calendars!
- Sunrise, Sunset: During the autumnal equinox, sunrise and sunset are separated by exactly 12 hours all over the world. In fact, “equinox” is from the Latin word “equinoxium,” which means equality between night and day.
- Changes in the Animal World: Animals experience biological changes with the autumnal equinox. The decrease in the amount of daylight is a subtle cue to animals in the Northern Hemisphere to begin preparing for the cold weather by taking in more food, migrating, or finding a place to hibernate.
- Auroras: The arrival of the autumnal equinox means we will enjoy longer nights and cool, comfortable temperatures. This makes it one of the best times to observe the Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis.
- A Full Moon: At the time of the autumnal equinox, we get to see a full, glowing moon. It is sometimes called the Harvest Moon. The moon is visible at an earlier time in the evening, which gives farmers more light to tend to their crops. I like to leave my bedroom curtains open at this time of year to enjoy the moonlight. I never get tired of admiring the moon and its mysterious glow.
- The Celestial Equator: During the autumnal equinox, the sun crosses what is known as the celestial equator. The celestial equator is an imaginary line that runs from the equator out into space.
- The Autumnal Equinox and Astrology: In astrology, the autumnal equinox signals the time when the sun enters Libra. Libra is the sign of balanced scales.
- A Chinese Celebration: The Mid-Autumn Festival in China is a celebration of the autumnal equinox. This is a time for eating foods from the summer harvest and, of course, some moon cakes.
- Celebration at Stonehenge: To celebrate the autumnal equinox, the Druids gather at Stonehenge in the U.K. to play music, participate in storytelling, and talk about the change of seasons.
- Different Seasons: The autumnal equinox means the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, but for people in the Southern Hemisphere, it means the beginning of spring.
- Celebrations at Home: Some American families celebrate the autumnal equinox by reestablishing a sense of balance in their own lives. Some start eating a balanced diet including fall vegetables such as artichokes, broccoli, carrots, eggplant, garlic, and kale. Other families set aside time for meditation to regain balance in their thinking and in the way they live.
Celebrate the autumnal equinox later this month and enjoy all of the wonderful things that autumn has to offer!