September 22, 2013
Fall Equinox Festivity
This year, the Autumnal equinox (also called the Fall equinox) takes place on September 22, 2013, which is today! Like the other equinox, the Vernal equinox, and the solstices (summer and winter alike), this is a day of celebrating the seasons, nature, and even faith in many cases. So, let’s learn a bit more about the Fall equinox.
According to Holiday Insights, “The Autumn equinox signals the beginning of Fall. It is the point where there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. If you live anywhere else, however, you will see a little bit more or a little bit less than 12 hours of daylight. The daylight hours are dwindling and will continue to do so until we reach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the start of winter.” As the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the Autumnal equinox is one of two days with equal portions day and night (the other being the Vernal equinox, of course.).
This balance of day and night often leads to religious acknowledgement of the need to balance the light and dark in our own lives. Moreover, the Autumnal equinox is the beginning of the season that leads to the darkest days of winter. It is the fall of the dominance of daylight in summer to the prevalence of darkness in winter. As wicca.com notes, for the Fall equinox “We all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year’s crops.”
Which leads to two other reasons that the Fall equinox is important: harvests and festivals. For centuries, this day is the start of celebrating the harvest and preparing for the winter ahead. Many fall festivals wait until after the equinox to take place so that farmers have crops to celebrate. In the words of Holiday Insights, “People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of a great summer season and the coming of a long winter. The fall festivals are the last of the outdoor events until spring. Just getting there is half the fun as you drive through hills and forests ablaze in fall color. So, get out and enjoy them.”
For many cultures, the Autumnal equinox is the perfect time to cleanse one’s house, body, and soul. For instance, many Native American tribes (as well as some Pagan and Wicca believers) use the smudge stick, which is made primarily from sage. The ceremony requires burning of the sage smudge stick while praying or chanting or meditating. Many believe the best times to do this are the equinoxes and solstices because these four dates are the end and beginning of seasons—a time of cleansing and renewal.
For most of us, though, the Autumnal equinox, as well as the Vernal equinox and the Winter and Summer solstices, are just the beginning of a new season, and that is deserving of celebration in and of itself. We know that summer has ends around September 22 each year, just as we know it begins around June 21, and this carries into Winter solstice and Vernal equinox. However, for some of us, these dates hold a spiritual and religious importance. From Christians to Pagans to Wiccans and many others, the equinoxes and solstices are days of celebration and prayer.
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