Autumn Part 1.

 What makes the first day of autumn special?

Autumn is a time eagerly anticipated by many, bringing refreshing cooler days, beautiful colours of the leaves, and a cosy atmosphere. In this blog, we'll explore all that has been associated with the autumnal equinox throughout history, as well as what's happening in nature and what the start of autumn brings. So stay tuned as we delve into the magic of the autumnal equinox and all that happens with the autumn transition.

The history and symbolism of the autumnal equinox

The equinox comes from the Latin words "aequi", which means the same as "nox" or night. At the equinox, day and night on the planet are almost the same length.

The autumnal equinox does not fall on the same day every year, although it always falls between 21 and 24 September. It marks the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere.

The equinox is a natural phenomenon that has attracted attention and fascinated people for centuries. These biennial events, when the length of day and night are almost equal, mark the changing of the seasons and are celebrated and worshipped in different cultures around the world.

The equinox, also known as the equinox, is an astronomical event that occurs twice a year, in spring and autumn. At these times, day and night are approximately the same length, meaning that light and darkness are roughly equal. The word "equinox" comes from the Latin word "aequinoctium", meaning "equal night".

The vernal equinox occurs around 20 or 21 March, when the Sun moves across the celestial equator and begins to shine in the northern hemisphere. This marks the beginning of spring.

The autumnal equinox occurs around 22 or 23 September, when the Sun again moves across the celestial equator, but this time setting in the northern hemisphere. This is the beginning of autumn.

These moments are important in astronomy and are also symbolic for many cultures around the world, marking the transition between the seasons and the even distribution of day and night.

Civilisations such as the Greeks and Egyptians followed the movement of the sun and the changing of the seasons. The Egyptians used a calendar based on the annual flooding of the River Nile, while the Greeks relied on the work of mathematicians and astronomers such as Hipparchus.

The modern calendar, mainly attributed to the Roman scholar Sosigenes, uses precise calculations of the length of the year and the time of the equinoxes. Sosigenes proposed a solar calendar called the Julian calendar, which was eventually replaced by the Gregorian calendar.

The equinoxes mark the changing of the seasons, a time of renewal and change, and have deeper symbolism and meaning in different cultures. They are celebrated in different traditions such as the Roman festival of Kibela, the Japanese festival of Higan and Mesopotamian festivals in honour of the goddess Ishtar.

According to Celtic legend, the story begins with the goddess Mother Earth and the guardian of the other world, Modron, who gives birth to her great son Mabon on the autumnal equinox. Most Celtic celebrations of the equinoxes centred on harvest festivals.

The equinox was considered a time to honour the spirit world, and it was customary to pick apples and place them on the graves of the dead, as apples were a symbol of rebirth and the desire of the living to be reunited with their loved ones.

Thesmophoria was another equinox celebrated frequently in ancient Greece. It was held in honour of Demeter - also known as Thesmophorus - and was celebrated exclusively by married women; neither men nor girls were allowed to participate. Pigs were sacrificed in a large cave called a megara a few months or weeks before the feast because the pig had to be rotted and decomposed for the ritual.

It was believed that the remains of the pigs were placed on the altar mixed with seeds and cakes and scattered over the fields. The mixture was such a good fertiliser that the Greeks believed it would ensure a good harvest.

For the Mayan and Aztec cultures, the celebration of the equinox was based on the huge Kulkulcan/Quetzalcoatl monument on the pyramid of Chichén-Itzá. The steps of the pyramid are orientated so that the vernal and autumnal equinoxes cast a unique shadow; an illusion that is supposed to look like a snake moving up the steps, with the tail at the top connecting to the head at the bottom.

People travel from afar to see Chichén-Itzá, but for the Maya it meant that twice a year their revered god Kulkulcan/Quetzalcoatl visited the temple in person.

For Buddhists, the equinox has a very special meaning. Because the equinox is a time when day and night are of equal length, Buddhists believe it is a symbol of the unification of the spiritual and physical worlds and represents the balance between light and darkness. The equinox is such an important time for them that the autumnal equinox is a public holiday.

The traditional Buddhist ceremony of the equinox is known as Higan. Higan means 'second shore' in Sanskrit and describes nirvana - the state of bliss and enlightenment attained after death. During the six days, Buddhists honour their ancestors by cleaning their graves and offering fresh flowers, incense, balls of sweet rice called ohagi and prayers.

The Hindu religion celebrates all four seasons, but the autumnal equinox is the most celebrated. Sharada Navaratri, also known as Maha Navaratri, begins on the first day (pratipada) of the fourteenth day of the lunar month of Ashwin (September-October) and lasts for ten days and nine nights. Most also celebrate with fasting, meditation and worship.

A different goddess is celebrated each day, although each goddess is a manifestation of the goddess Durga and is worshipped in many forms during the nine days.

That's the end of today's post, if you're interested I'm available on social media or in the comments. don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date! See you again in a few days.