5 Fun Facts About The First Day Of Fall & Autumnal Equinox Traditions

Photo: Shutterstock
redheaded woman celebrating the first day of fall
Self

For the second time this year, the entire world is about to rest in complete balance for a brief moment between light and dark.

That's because it's a time to celebrate the Fall Equinox.

What is the fall equinox?

Also known as the autumnal equinox or the September equinox, the fall equinox is "the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward." This marks the point in the year when our daylight hours begin to be overtaken by hours spent in darkness.

It also happens to be the first day of fall, and is known to begin a time of harvesting, which is why the Full Moon closest to the fall equinox is called the Harvest Moon.

When is the first day of fall 2021?

While the exact date varies slightly, the first day of fall typically begins on September 22nd. This is only in the Northern Hemisphere, however. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, fall begins in March.

The September equinox doesn't begin at midnight. Rather, this year it begins at 3:20 PM EDT, 2:21 PM CDT, 1:21 PM MDT, and 12:21 PM PDT.

RELATED: 30 Fall Quotes To Prove Autumn Is The Best Season

The roots of the equinox come from Paganism and Greek Mythology.

For the ancient Greeks, Equinox season began when Hades, the god of the underworld, and Zeus compromised to divide the seasons to appease Demeter, who was still mourning the loss of her daughter, Persephone, to Hades.

Here are 5 more fun facts about the autumnal equinox to help you celebrate the first day of fall.

1. Paganism is far from what you probably think it is.

There are 1-1.5 million people who identify as Pagan or Wiccan in the United States alone.

The roots of Paganism come from ancient religious practices followed in various Greek and Egyptian and Roman cultures.

The most recognized symbol of Paganism is the 5-pointed start in a circle called "The Pentacle."

The points of the symbol represent the four directions: East, West, North, South, and the sacred spirit. Some refer to these as the Guardian of the Watchtowers and the sacred spirit.

2. In Paganism, the Sacred Spirit and celebration of equinox is called Mabon.

Mabon marks the beginning of the second harvesting which is centered on grains, specifically wheat.

The day also marks a season when darkness reigns over the light world until springtime when light rules over darkness.

They also consider this a time of energy exchange between feminine energy and masculine energy.

RELATED: What's The Difference Between An Equinox And A Solstice?

3. Mabon celebrations take place every year at Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is one of the seven wonders of the world and is located in England.

No one knows how the structure ended up here, but the placement of the stones can predict the exact time of the changes in seasons.

Some scholars speculate that Stonehenge may have been used to predict the astronomical events taking place at this time. It may also have been used by ancient astrologers as a calculator to time the movement of the sun, planets, and stars into their various placements of the zodiac.

In fact, the spring equinox is considered the start of the astrological New Year. Some zodiac signs are even referred to as seasons. For example, Libra and Aries are called equinox signs, while Cancer and Capricorn are considered solstices.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

4. The fall equinox involves a celebration ceremony.

Although mostly everyone considers Cornucopias as a symbol for Harvest and Thanksgiving, it's actually a Pagan practice to acknowledge life and death.

Pagans gather gourds and put them into a wicker cornucopia, along with a pine broom from a pine tree, including pine cones and acorns. These items are put inside a wicker basket that's all-natural and set on the center of the kitchen table, typically with a burgundy or brown candle, or taper candle.

These items are an offering at the end of the Equinox ceremony, a reminder that things are returning to the ground. This return to the earth symbolism is another reminder that new life is coming again soon.

They anoint the candles, basket, and gourds with scented and seasonal oils, and say a prayer to the goddesses and the gods.

5. Music, tea and food are part of the fall festivities (not just pumpkin spice).

Tea is drunk with a special meal during this ceremony. Individual cups of tea are offered to the Pagan gods and goddesses, including the gods of darkness and light. Food is also served with a prayer.

When the ceremony is over, the offering is buried into the ground to symbolize the cycle of nature.

However, you decide to bring in the Fall Harvest as winter is ushering in, we all can practice gratitude — the act of giving thanks for our blessings while looking forward to new life in the Spring.

RELATED: 101 Best Fall Instagram Captions Perfect For Autumn Pictures

Aria Gmitter, M.F.A., is YourTango's Senior Editor for Horoscopes and Spirituality. She's an astrologer, numerologist, tarotist and theologian.