Summer is on its way out and the Autumn equinox will fall upon us soon.
Jot this down: the seasonal change will likely occur at 5:04am EDT on Friday, September 23, according to the NBC-2 weather blog.
When the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar established his calendar in 45 BC, he placed the Spring equinox on March 25. The reasons for the shift to March 21 are linked to the tradition followed by Pope Gregory XIII to found his modern Gregorian calendar. Actually, the Pope was not inspired by the desire to honor the Roman dictator, however to restore the edicts about the date of Easter of the Council of Nicaea of AD 325. Consequently, the date of Easter is fixed by an approximation of lunar cycles used for the Hebraic calendar, however, according to the historian Bede who actually wrote Beowulf, the name comes from a pagan celebration of the Germanic tribes of the vernal (spring) equinox..
While the equinox is widely held to signify when the Northern Hemisphere constitutes the equal parts of day and night, Timeanddate.com explains that actually it is not quite equal:
“This is because the day is slightly longer in places that are further away from the equator, and because the sun takes longer to rise and set in these locations. Furthermore, the sun takes longer to rise and set farther from the equator because it does not set straight down – it moves in a horizontal direction.”
The equinox happens twice a year. Both in the seasons of fall and spring, and it is known as the “vernal equinox” in March.
An article in The Washington Post explains that the practice of adopting the autumnal equinox to constitute the first day of fall may be traced back to the first days of the French Revolution. The Gregorian Calendar (which we still use in most of the world) was jettisoned in favor of the French Republican Calendar that was instituted on the date, September 22, 1792, on.
So, take your sweaters out of the closet. Longer nights, shorter days and chillier temperatures are on their way along with numerous Pagan celebrations marking Mabon, the Wiccan Sabbat, that honors the second harvest and the beginning of winter preparations. And… of course… Halloween!