We all love trivia, especially those tidbits about Wicca. Here, I've gathered 15 of the most useful and intriguing stories about the fall equinox...
...so that, the next time you have witch friends over, you can whip up some coffee and share an interesting fact or two!
1. "Equinox" derives from the Latin aequus, meaning "equal" and nox, meaning "night". On both the spring (vernal) and fall (autumnal) equinoxes, day and night are more or less equally long.
2. People in the northern hemisphere may refer to it as the autumnal equinox, but those in the southern hemisphere call it the vernal equinox, because there it is springtime.
3. Once the sun sets on the fall equinox, don't expect it to rise at the usual time. The sunrise will occur later, and sunset will come sooner. However, at the winter solstice, the days will start to grow longer as the nights grow shorter.
4. The leaves' colors during autumn are such a pretty sight! But contrary to popular belief, this doesn't happen because of changing weather conditions. It's actually because of the limited amount of sunlight the leaves receive.
5. At other times of the year, the sun's path across the sky is an upward curve. But on the equinox, the sun's path forms a straight line.
6. You may have heard of this intriguing phenomenon involving eggs and the equinox. They say that because day and night are equal on the equinox, everything in the earth is also in balance. And this is supposedly the reason why you can get an egg to stand on its end! Amazing, right? But science has proven that this claim is false! Gravity doesn't go away all of a sudden, just because night and day are equal on the equinox.
7. As soon as the chilly months come, birds and butterflies will start to migrate along the path of the sun!
8. "The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - this is how the poet John Keats described fall in his poem, To Autumn. The fall equinox symbolizes the abundance of the harvest season. Keats continues: "To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees / And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core."
9. In astrology, the fall equinox marks the period when the sun enters Libra - the zodiac sign with balanced scales as its symbol.
10. What do you call the full moon that occurs near the fall equinox? The Harvest Moon, of course! This moon is so bright that farmers could work late into the evening.
11. Before Americans celebrated Thanksgiving every last Thursday of November, it originally fell on October 3rd. Agriculturally speaking, this was more logical because it coincided with the harvest season. The final date of Thanksgiving was passed in Congress in 1941.
12. Archaeologists and historians believe that the ancients built Stonehenge to serve as a place of ritual during the solstices and equinoxes.
13. Intihuatana is a stone monument the ancients built in Machu Picchu in Peru. In English, it means "hitching post of the sun". It was used as a solar clock to mark when the solstices and equinoxes came.
14. Every solstice and equinox, large crowds gather around a pyramid called El Castillo in Mexico. The lengthening shadows cast by the setting sun on the pyramid create an image of a large snake crawling down the pyramid's staircase.
15. One of the most popular stories about the harvest season is that of grain goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. When Hades took Persephone into the Underworld, Demeter became very distraught that the crops on Earth died. The goddess eventually got her daughter back, but without striking a deal with Hades to let Persephone spend six months a year in the Underworld. According to this story, this is the reason why the Earth lies in desolation for half a year before being 'reborn' again in the spring.