For artsies like me, autumn is a state of mind—a point in time when I suddenly have the urge to take a drive in the country and stop at a roadside stand for apple cider.
For geeks like my husband, autumn begins precisely when the sun crosses the celestial equator—which this year occurs at 4:21 am on September 23rd. There are pie charts and graphs and equations to warm the heart of any geek. But I prefer to celebrate autumn with pumpkin pie, and plenty of whipped cream, thank you.
In terms of mythology, we are leaving the season of the sun and entering the season of the moon—since in the winter season, the nights are longer and the moon spends more time in the sky.
Ancient Britons built Stonehenge to mark the occurrence of equinoxes and solstices.
Ancient Mayans built a pyramid at Chichén Itzá to mark these astronomical events. At the autumn equinox, seven triangles became visible on the pyramid's staircase.
|Photo: Manuel de Corselas|
Examples of early American "equinox markers" include Mystery Hill in Vermont and Serpent Mound in Ohio.
The ancient Greeks said that Persephone was returning to the underworld to be with her husband Hades during the winter months. Curse that stupid pomegranate!
|Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyan|
The Chinese celebrate with a Mid-Autumn Festival. They eat Moon Cakes, filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit. Looks delicious, doesn't it!
In Japan, the equinoxes are a time to visit the graves of your ancestors, and clean and decorate the graves.
|Photo: Akitoshi Iio|
|The Creation of the Sun and Moon, Michelangelo|
We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land;
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
|The Harvesters, Brueghel|