Friday, November 6, 2015

Early Sat. Morning Marks Mid-Autumn

Mid-Autumn Festival-beijing.jpg
Mid-Autumn Festival in Beijing, 2006 October 21. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival held each year in China and Vietnam, within 15 days of the Autumnal Equinox on the night of the Full Moon from early September to early October. In Europe, Mid-Autumn was observed on October 31, what we now call Halloween. However, on today's calendar, the Astronomical Mid-Autumn comes a week later.
(Sources: Wikipedia. org , "Mid-Autumn Festival-beijing" by Shizhao - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons - )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Early Saturday morning will mark the precise mid-point in the season of Autumn in Earth's Northern Hemisphere (mid-point in the season of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere); Saturday is known as the Cross-Quarter Day of Samhain. While tradition may consider the time around Halloween the middle of the season, with modern calendars the actual mid-point date has slipped about a week.

Astronomical mid-Autumn occurs early Saturday Morning, 2015 November 7 at 1:34 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 6:34 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This moment is the exact mid-point between the Autumnal Equinox, observed on 2015 September 23 at 4:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 8:20 UTC, and the Winter Solstice, which will occur on 2015 December 21 at 11:48 p.m. EST / Dec. 22 at 4:48 UTC.

Each year is divided into four seasons, with the start of each season known as a “Quarter Day” (either an Equinox or a Solstice). Each season is divided into two parts, with the mid-point of the season known as a “Cross-Quarter Day.”

While, in today's world, this time of year is considered the middle of the season of Autumn, in ancient Celtic and Germanic societies the Cross-Quarter Day of Samhain was actually considered the beginning of Winter. Hence, the Winter Solstice would, then, be considered mid-Winter. And, Winter would end on another Cross-Quarter Day, known as Imbolc, Brigid, or Brigantia, better known today as Groundhog Day.

In ancient times, the Cross-Quarter Day of Samhain was observed on October 31. Samhain actually means “Summer's End” and was also considered New Year's Eve by the Celtic peoples. This holiday was a great festival where bonfires were lit to encourage the dimming Sun not to completely vanish and to keep evil spirits away.

In A.D. 835, the Roman Catholic Church established November 1 as “All Saints' Day,” while in the eleventh century “All Souls' Day,” commemorating the faithfully departed, became a companion observance on November 2. The pagan and Christian traditions then merged, with October 31 becoming the “Eve of All Hallows' ” or Halloween.

The tradition of “trick or treating” on Halloween was derived from the ancient traditions of mumming and guising in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Wales, where people would go house-to-house reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. Some historians believe this was done to personify the old spirits of the Winter, who demanded a reward in exchange for the return of warm weather in the Summer months. 

Special Thanks: Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club.

More on Quarter Days and Cross-Quarter Days:
Link >>>

More about the Equinox: Link >>>

More about the Solstice: Link >>> 

More on Samhain: Link >>>

More on Halloween: Link >>>

More on All Saints' Day: Link >>>'_Day

More on All Souls' Day: Link >>>'_Day

Related Blog Posts ---

"Autumn Begins Early Wed. Morning." 2015 Sept. 22.

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"Astronomical Middle of Summer." 2015 Aug. 7.

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"Winter: Sun. 6:03 p.m. EST; Ursid Meteor Shower w/Web-Cast Peaks Monday. 2014 Dec. 21.

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"Summer Begins Saturday Morning at 6:51 a.m. EDT." 2014 June 19.

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"Winter Begins Sat.; Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks Sun. w/ Web-Cast." 2013 Dec. 21.

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"Astronomical Mid-Point of Summer." 2013 July 30.

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"Sunday: Winter's True Mid-Point." 2013 Feb. 3.

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"Winter Begins: Dec. 22, 12:30 a.m. EST." 2011 Dec. 21.
Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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