Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn is here!

Isn’t the weather pleasant this week? I felt the scorching sun finally decided to be kind to the Northern hemisphere. Looking at the colorful leaves in my neighborhood reminded me that fall begins promptly on the autumn equinox. The changing fall foliage never fails to surprise and delight us, don’t you agree? We wonder how the green color turns orange, brown etc. Autumn is more of British usage while ‘fall’ is more common in American English. The autumnal equinox marks the first day of the season of autumn.
Autumnal equinox is also referred to as the September or fall equinox in the Northern hemisphere, as well as the spring or Vernol equinox in the Southern hemisphere. An equinox occurs twice a year, the name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length. The seasons are not of equal length, because of the elliptical nature of the orbit of the Earth, as discovered by Johannes Kepler.
Like every season autumn has its unique events, festivals and celebrations of different faiths around the world. (Info collected from websites)
Today is the Autumn Equinox Day and it’s a national holiday in Japan!
In Japan, First Day of autumn is often celebrated with visit to the ancestral graves to pay respected to deceased relatives. People pay their respects at family graves during Higan. Higan means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana after crossing the river of existence. It celebrates the spiritual move from the world of suffering to the world of enlightenment and is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves and reciting sutras. It is a time for the Japanese to worship their imperial ancestors.
A similar practice of remembering and paying respects by performing rituals to the dead ancestors is much prevalent in Hindu communities, Mahalaya paksha, during September/October.
On the Mid Autumn day, Chinese families gather to admire the moon believed to be the most beautiful and the roundest on this night. It symbolizes the union of the family and Chinese families celebrate this event by eating moon cakes, and admiring the moon.
Chrysanthemum-autumn flower
In Greek mythology autumn begins as the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to live with her husband Hades. It has also been believed that magically it was a good time to enact rituals for protection and security as well as reflect on successes or failures from the previous months.
European countries connect with harvesting the crops. Halloween and Thanksgiving are major holidays during this season. Some traditions mark it as the time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.
Whichever tradition you follow, autumn is more of a fun and relaxing time as we anticipate the cold weather that is just around the corner. 
Oh! by the way if you are reading my post from Southern hemisphere enjoy "Spring"!

"How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days." 
-John Burroughs

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