The first day of autumn is marked by the autumn equinox. On the day of the autumn equinox, the Earth receives an equal amount of daylight and darkness, meaning that the length of day and night are equal. The start of the autumn season is celebrated and marked by many occasions.
For instance, China and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival). The gifting and eating of mooncakes is the most common way of celebrating the Moon Festival. The round shape of the mooncake symbolizes wholeness, spiritual contentment, and reunion. Families gather to eat mooncakes and watch the moon together.
Meanwhile, neo-Druids and other pagans gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise and perform rituals on the equinox. Stonehenge is generally inaccessible to the public, but during the equinox and solstice celebrations the monument is open to the public. Many countries issued coins that celebrate Stonehenge, including the 5-dollar coin issued in Fiji in 2006. (KM 266)
Another popular gathering place at the autumn equinox is at the ancient Mayan capital, Chich’en Itza. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, thousands of tourists and locals recreate festivities and watch the “Descent of Kukulcan”. According to legend, Kukulcan, the feathered serpent god, returns to Earth during the equinoxes to commune with his worshippers and bless his people with good harvest and health before bathing in sacred water and going to the underworld.
At the precise moment of the equinox, the Pyramid of Kukulcan casts a shadow that resembles a giant snake slithering down the stairs. This phenomenon is believed to be the “Descent of Kukulcan”. The Pyramid of Kukulcan was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World on the 7th of July, 2007. Five years later, Mexico issued the Chich’en Itza coin series. This series featured well-known landmarks within the ancient capital, including the Pyramid of Kukulcan (KM 949).
There are many ways to celebrate the start of the autumn season. These are just some ways people celebrate it around the world.