By: Evelynn Baker
Many people think of September 22nd as the first day of fall, but did students know it is also the day where the autumn equinox takes place? Equinoxes only occur twice a year, starting with the spring equinox in March. The second equinox to take place is the autumn equinox, which usually happens on September 22nd. Simply, on this day, the sun crosses earth’s equator. The sun radiates over the equator and distributes the same measure of light on each side of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, creating an equinox. To give students some context, this equinox begins with the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and introduces spring to the Southern Hemisphere. The term “equinox” is Latin, ‘equi-’ means equal and ‘-nox,’ implies night. This definition comes from the occurrence that day and night are equal in length in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. An interesting fact about this equinox is that it starts the possibility of seeing northern lights. This is because northern lights only arise with major solar activity, which occurs during the equinoxes. With this new equinox occurring soon, you can expect some alterations for the next few months. The days will begin to feel shorter, due to the amount of daylight we obtain is shortened. The leaves are changing colors and the weather grows colder. There are many traditions and events that occur during September to celebrate the equinox and the start of fall. An example is a massive festival, celebrated by the Pagans, called Mabon. Mabon is a Pagan festival, which celebrates the autumn equinox by having feast, decorating their homes with a family Mabon alter, and by picking apples. Picking apples symbolizes the Mabon season and honors the Roman goddess, Pomona, who is the goddess of fruit trees. Another form of celebration for the autumn equinox is cooking a harvest potluck and feasting with family and friends. This primeval Chinese tradition goes as far back to the Shang dynasty days. Their tradition is to feast while under the night sky. While some cultures have traditions they follow, others just simply make a list of their gratitude, or by practicing bringing balance into themselves. Some meditate or journal to enhance their inner balance. More commonly celebrations practiced, now in day are going to pumpkin patches or merely just having bonfires. Carving pumpkins, celebrating Thanksgiving, or going trick or treating are all popular autumn festivities as well. Now students are informed further on the autumnal equinox and how it occurs. Students should expect shorter days, colder weather, and all kinds of fall festivity occurring soon. Students also now know some ancient fall traditions celebrated by the Pagans and Chinese, as well as modern celebrations around the globe.