An equinox occurs precisely twice a year, once in March and once in September. The term “equinox” derives from the equality of day and night occurring at the time of the equinox. Essentially, the sun will cross the equator on the date of the equinox, at which point both the day and night periods will be equal across the entire globe.
Instead of the early sunrises and late sunsets of summer or the longer nights of winter, the day and night periods will run at roughly the same amount of time. But it won’t stay that way for long; the clocks roll forward again on November 5.
Why It’s Important
Just as the March equinox signals the start of spring, the September 23 equinox will officially announce the start of fall. If you happen to live in the Southern Hemisphere, Equinox Day signals the start of spring.
That’s important for several reasons. For many farmers, Equinox Day will begin the harvest season, effectively signaling the arrival of harvest sales and festivals in the more agricultural-based areas in the county. As the official start of the fall season, Equinox Day will be observed by many as the appropriate time to start getting ready for Halloween or indulging in pumpkin-spice foods and beverages.
Granted, many stores started offering pumpkin spice and fall decorations as early as July, but that’s okay; the Christmas decorations will be up by mid-October.
Also, fun fact: while the fall equinox will occur this year on September 23, the 2024 fall equinox will occur on September 22. While the equinox does not occur on the exact same date every year, the date does not move around much past the middle or late portion of the equinox month. In other words, you don’t have to worry about an equinox occurring in July or not showing up until December.
Why It’s Important, Part 2
Depending on the time of year, an equinox can be seen as a time of mental clarity or preparation of the things to come. For example, a spring equinox could herald a time of spring cleaning or new mental purity following the dark times of winter. Likewise, a fall equinox can be seen as the start of the numerous end-of-year holidays and celebrations, or perhaps a time of relief after a long, hot summer.
An equinox can also be used as a time to take stock of your life and make plans for the future, an activity generally reserved for the start of a new calendar year. In that sense, an equinox can invite a greater interest in your personal health by encouraging you to keep track of your life and goals on a more constant basis.
Enjoy Your Equinox
Does observing the fall equinox require you to go outside at 2:49 a.m. on September 23 (a Saturday) and watch the moon? Of course not. Does it require you to wait until after September 23 to decorate your home for Halloween? Nope. Does it require any sort of observance or activity? Only if you wish to do so. The easiest way to enjoy an equinox would be to welcome the official change of the season, even if the weather hasn’t yet changed to match the season.
Also, pumpkin spice lattes and Oktoberfest beers taste better after the equinox!