Days become shorter than nights as the Sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. This ends with the winter solstice, after which days start to grow longer once again.
The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, ”night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length.
- The Southward equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar. It is one of the Iranian festivals called Jashne Mihragan, or the festival of sharing or love in Zoroastrianism.
- In Japan Autumnal Equinox Day (秋分の日, Shūbun no hi) is a public holiday. Higan (お彼岸) is a Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated by Japanese sects during both the Spring and Autumnal Equinox.
- In Korea, Chuseok is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday celebrated around the Autumn Equinox.
- The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, often near the autumnal equinox day, and is an official holiday in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and in many countries with a significant Chinese minority. As the lunar calendar is not synchronous with the Gregorian calendar, this date could be anywhere from mid-September to early October.
- The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms (节气, literally “climatic segments”), and the autumnal equinox (Qiūfēn, Chinese and Japanese: 秋分; Korean: 추분; Vietnamese: Thu phân) marks the middle of the autumn season. In this context, the Chinese character 分 means “(equal) division” (within a season).
- The Jewish Sukkot usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere autumnal equinox, although occasionally (In the modern Jewish calendar, three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon.
- Dożynki is a Slavic harvest festival. In pre-Christian times the feast usually fell on the autumn equinox.
- The Southward equinox was “New Year’s Day” in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. The French First Republic was proclaimed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792, making the following day (the equinox day that year) the first day of the “Republican Era” in France. The start of every year was to be determined by astronomical calculations following the real Sun and not the mean Sun.
- The traditional harvest festival in the United Kingdom was celebrated on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the September equinox.
- Neopagans observe the September equinox as a cardinal point on the Wheel of the Year. In the Northern Hemisphere some varieties of paganism adapt Autumn Equinox traditions. In the Southern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox corresponds with Ostara.
- The reconstructed Cahokia Woodhenge, a large timber circle located at the Mississippian culture Cahokia archaeological site near Collinsville, Illinois, is the site of annual equinox and solstice sunrise observances. An announcement for the 2017 observance said “Out of respect for Native American beliefs, no rituals or ceremonies will be held at the free event. But visitors will stand in the same place where the Mississippian people once gathered to watch the sun rise.”
cgk.ink is marking today’s equinox with a special, curated collection to let you celebrate all things fall in style!