Myths, magic and nature come together for two special days in the year for one mystical party; they play a role in ancient cultures, tales of the supernatural, and celebrations of nature. The Spring and Autumn equinox – when the sun sits directly above the earth for an equal 12-hour day and night – are shrouded in mystery. As the nights draw in and the trees turn to gold, here’s all you need to know about this intriguing day.
Ancient structures all put on a light show during the equinox
From pyramids to stone engravings, civilisations marked the equinox with incredible accuracy. Loughcrew in Ireland contains an interior structure that lights up like a Christmas tree when the equinox sunrise hits it, revealing 5,000 year-old designs carved into its rock.
There’s a pyramid at Chichen Itza in Mexico that creates a light pattern on its nine steps on the day of the spring and autumn equinox.
Some researchers even believe that the pyramids at Giza are perfectly aligned because Ancient Egyptians used the light of the equinox to space them out –which could explain how they managed it without a (very) long ruler.
Equinox means ‘a hard day’s night’ in Latin
Not really. It does, however, derive from the Latin equi and nox, which clubbed together means ‘equal night’.
Nature is the real star of the show
Harvest festivals are common across many cultures to mark the end of one season and the start of another, and many religions celebrate the beauty of nature around the equinox. Michaelmas is a Christian festival influenced by ancient Pagan traditions, while the Moon Festival in China and Vietnam marks the abundance of the summer harvest.
One thing they all have in common, other than the equinox? Mouth-watering delicacies, from Chinese moon cakes to Iranian Pistachio delicacies in celebration of Mehregan (the Persian festival of Autumn).
The equinox pops up in mythology frequently
Persephone supposedly descended into the underworld on the equinox to be reunited with the infamous bad boy of the Greek Gods, Hades.
Alongside the myths, it was also believed that you could balance an egg on the equinox, as well as stand without a shadow, because of the perfect alignment of Sun and Earth. (Read Accuweather’s debunking of the latter here.)
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