For those of you who may not be entirely familiar with what an Equinox is. It is two moments in the year when the sun shines directly on the equator and where night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox,” derived from Latin, meaning “equal night” (depending on location).
The autumnal equinox occurs in September each year whilst the spring equinox happens in March. In the Northern Hemisphere, the date marks the end of Summer and signifies the beginning of Autumn! This year the autumnal equinox will occur on Tuesday 22nd of September at 2.30 pm. After the autumnal equinox, the sun is rising later and nightfall comes sooner.
Although the harvest moon is on October 1st this year, every 3 years to be precise, (most years it is in September) it is highly associated with the autumn equinox too! September 2nd is also a time for the corn moon to take place so get ready to look up at the night sky for an exceptionally bright moon to dazzle your horizons.
Did you know? Because the moon is particularly bright and rises early, in the past this allowed farmers to extend their working day so the name ‘harvest moon’ comes from when farmers harvested the last of their summer crops in the prolonged evening moonlight before winter came along.
TIME FOR CELEBRATION
What better way to celebrate this transitional time of year by marking the September equinox with a harvest festival? That time of the year when all the crops have been harvested, the Harvest Festival is a celebration of the food grown on the land!
The people of the British Isles have given thanks at Autumn harvest festivals since pagan times. Harvest festivals traditionally were held on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon.
Thanksgiving celebrations are both worldwide and very ancient. People celebrate this day by singing, praying and decorating our churches with baskets of fruit and food.
Early English settlers took the harvest festival tradition with them to America. These traditional festivals once celebrated around the equinox, formed the basis of American Thanksgiving, which they now celebrate in November.
Archaeologists believe a number of prehistoric sites were used by ancient people to track the position of the sun and predict equinoxes and solstices. Some of these sites include Stonehenge and Newgrange in the UK!
Each year on the 22nd / 23rd September Druids, Pagans, families, tourists and travellers gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox and to see the sunrise above the stones. It Is definitely a great spiritual experience!