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The Fall equinox

Celebrations of various faiths, countries, & eras

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Fall celebrations by various faiths and countries - ancient and modern

bulletANCIENT BRITAIN: Both the solstices and equinoxes "were the highly sophisticated preoccupation of the mysterious Megalithic peoples who pre-dated Celt, Roman and Saxon on Europe's Atlantic fringe by thousands of years." Stonehenge and other stone structures were aligned so that the solstices and equinoxes could be determined.
 
bulletANCIENT IRELAND: The spring and fall equinox were celebrated in ancient times. A cluster of megalithic cairns are scattered through the hills at Loughcrew, about 55 miles North West of Dublin in Ireland. Longhcrew Carin T is called a passage tomb. It was designed so that the light from the rising sun on the spring and summer equinoxes penetrates a long corridor and illuminates a backstone, which is decorated with astronomical symbols. 1,2 See also movies and still photographs taken at the time of the Spring Equinox. Tim O'Brien has written a book titled: "Light years ago: A study of the cairns of Newgrange and Cairn T Loughcrew, Co. Meath, Ireland," Black Cat Press, (1992). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. This is an expensive book! However, less expensive used copies are often available.
 
bulletASTROLOGERS: On the day of the fall solstice, the sun enters the sign of Libra -- the constellation of the balance or scales.
 
bulletCHRISTIANITY: The Christian Church replaced earlier Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations during Medieval times, with Christianized observances. Replacing the fall equinox is Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael, on SEP-29. "His feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for that day. By Michaelmas the harvest had to be completed and the new cycle of farming would begin. It was a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues." 3

Other substitutions by the Church were:
bulletReplacing the spring equinox by the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is held on MAR-25, on the nominal date of the spring equinox according to the old Julian calendar. There was a "brief flirtation with calling the Vernal Equinox 'Gabrielmas.' " This is the time when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant. (Luke 1:26-38) 4

bulletReplacing the summer solstice, Midsummer Day, is the feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrated on JUN-24.

bulletReplacing the winter solstice is Christmas, on DEC-25 when Mary is traditionally believed to have given birth to Jesus, while still a virgin.
 

bulletCHUMASH: This is a Native American tribe from Southern California. They celebrate their fall equinox sun ceremony during their month of Hutash (September). It takes place "after the harvest is picked, processed and stored....Kakunupmawa is a ritual name for the Sun. According to traditional Chumash lore, all humans were known as children of the Sun, or 'sons of Kakunupmawa.' " 5 The spiritual thoughts of the tribe would become focused the importance of unity in the face of winter confinement, death and rebirth.
 
bulletDRUIDS: At this time of the year, the ancient Celts conducted a mock sacrifice of a large wicker-work figure which represented the vegetation spirit. This might have been the origin of Julius Caesar's comment in his Gallic Wars that the Druids performed human sacrifices. Although he never witnessed a human sacrifice and never met anyone who had, this story has been accepted and repeated often enough to be accepted as truth. The Celtic mock sacrifice has been reborn in the Burning Man Project, a yearly fall festival celebrated for one week in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. 6 The movie "The Wicker Man" was based on the Celtic tradition; to say more would ruin the film if you are seeing it for the first time. 7

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bulletFRANCE: A new calendar was adopted at the time of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. The first day of the year, the 1st of Vendemiaire (the grape-harvest month), was the date of the fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The year was divided into twelve months of 30 days each. That left five or six surplus days which were celebrations ending the year, in honor of virtue, genius, work, opinion, prizes and revolution.
 
bulletMAYAN: The ancient Mayans constructed a pyramid at Cihick©n Itz© which displayed different patterns of triangles of light at the time of the solstices and equinoxes. The dates signaled the start of a harvest, planting, or a religious ceremony. On the fall equinox, seven triangles become visible on the pyramid's staircase. 8
 
bulletNATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY: There are countless stone structures created by Natives in the past and still standing in North America. One was called Calendar One by its modern-day finder. It is in a natural amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in Vermont. From a stone enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can see a number of vertical rocks and other markers around the edge of the bowl "At the winter solstice, the sun rose at the southern peak of the east ridge and set at a notch at the southern end of the west ridge." The summer solstice and both equinoxes were similarly marked. 9

"America's Stonehenge" is a 4,000 year old megalithic  site located on Mystery Hill in Salem NH. Carbon dating has estimated the age of some charcoal remnants at 3,000 and 4,000 years ago. Researchers have concluded that the site was erected either by Native Americans or an unknown migrant European population. 10 The site contains five standing stones and one fallen stone in a linear alignment which point to both the sunrise and sunset at the and fall equinoxes. 

This list continues...

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Loughcrew Megalithic Cairns," Knowth.com at: http://www.knowth.com/
  2. "Loughcrew Autumnal Equinox 2002," Knowth.com at: http://www.knowth.com/
  3. Lance, "Hail to the Sabbat: Mabon!," at: http://www.paganet.org/
  4. "Fall Equinox," at: http://pagans.foolmoon.com/
  5. John Anderson, "Chumash Autumn Equinox," at: http://www.angelfire.com/
  6. Burning Man's website is at: http://www.burningman.com/
  7. "The Shadow of the Equinox," at: http://www.isourcecom.com/
  8. J.W. Mavor & B.E. Dix, "Manitou: The sacred landscape of New England's Native Civilization." Inner Traditions (1989).
  9. "America's Stonehenge" is at: http://www.stonehengeusa.com/ 

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Copyright © 2002 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-AUG-7
Latest update: 2009-SEP-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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