Autumnal Equinox – Date, History, Importance & Celebration

Autumnal Equinox also is known as Fall Equinox takes place in the month of September. It falls between September 21 and September 24. This day marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, however, it is interesting to know that same marks exactly opposite in the Southern Hemisphere i.e. September marks the start of spring in Southern Hemisphere. People used to celebrate fall equinox for centuries now. It is also related to the harvest celebrations. 

Autumnal Equinox in India – Date, History, Importance & Celebration

The word “Equinox” comes from a Latin word “aequi”, which also means equal, and “nox”, or night. Ut is believed that on equinox, the day and night are of nearly equal length across the planet. The reason for this is that Earth orbits around the Sun, and it is tilted at a fixed angle. For half the year, i.e. for 6 months, the North Pole is tilted slightly towards the Sun, bringing the longer days to Northern Hemisphere, whereas the South Pole is tilted slightly away from the Sun, making the days shorter by bringing fewer hours of sunlight to the Southern Hemisphere.

As the Earth continues to move around the Sun at fixed orbit, for the next 6 months, i.e. for the next half year the North Pole has slightly tilted away from the Sun and vice-versa for the South Pole. Equinox marks the point of the year when this transition occurs. Hence, the Autumnal equinox i.e. September marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the ancient times, people didn’t have clocks to calculate the minutes of daytime nighttime, So they used to calculate it with the help of  Sun’s position. People used to observe the rising and setting points of the sun and movements in them on each day of the year. Therefore summer solstice would occur when the sun reached its Northernmost point, hence marking the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Similarly, the sun’s Southernmost point marks the winter solstice which is known as the shortest day of the Northern Hemisphere. On these days of the year, the sun rose exactly due east and set exactly due west.

Autumnal Equinox Date

Autumnal Equinox date 2019: September 23

Autumnal Equinox date 2020: September 22

Autumnal Equinox date 2021: September 23

Like every occasion marks the different way of celebrating it, same goes for Autumnal Equinox, for the ancient Greeks, Autumnal Equinox marks the return of their Goddess Persephone to the darkness of the underworld, where she’s united with her husband Hades.

However the Chinese consider it their harvest moon, they began celebrating the fall harvest centuries ago, during the Shang dynasty. According to the Japanese Buddhists, they celebrate it as Higan, during which they return to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors and elders. In Great Britain, it is celebrated as a Harvest festival where they give thanks to the harvesters. 

However, different ways of celebrating the day don’t create any difference in the celebrations and enthusiasm of people. 

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