What Is the Fall Equinox?
The fall equinox takes place on or around September 21 every year and marks the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere (and spring in the Southern Hemisphere).
The earth’s axis is relatively parallel with the sun on the fall equinox, just like at the spring equinox, so the amount of daylight and darkness is about equal. After the fall equinox, the tilt of Earth’s axis will move the North Pole away from the sun, causing shorter days and colder temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.
Fall Equinox Customs and Traditions
There’s a reason thoughts of autumn bring up the iconic image of a cornucopia spilling over with produce. Many cultures think of fall as a season of harvest and call the full moon that falls closest to the equinox the “Harvest Moon.” The Chinese began celebrating the successful harvest of rice and wheat at the Harvest Moon centuries ago. The celebrations continue to this day with the Mid-Autumn Festival where communities fill the streets with lanterns, give thanks, and watch the moon. The British have held harvest festivals of their own since pagan times. Early English settlers took this tradition to America and formed the basis of American Thanksgiving.
Other cultures have their own stories connected to the equinox. To the ancient Greeks, for instance, it marked the yearly return of the goddess Persephone to the underworld where she was reunited with her husband Hades. During the French Revolution, the French government implemented a new yearly calendar that would begin each new year on the autumnal equinox. They followed this calendar from 1793 to 1806 when Napoleon Bonaparte abolished it.
How to Celebrate the Fall Equinox
Wave goodbye to summer with new autumnal traditions of your own. You can embrace the feeling of plenty brought by the harvest and write down a list of things you are grateful for this season.
Or you can experience the harvest for yourself by picking apples and pumpkins and using your bounty to make delicious recipes such as pumpkin soup or apple pie cupcakes. While your goodies are cooking, spruce up your home with fall decorations to set the stage for the season ahead.