Autumnal Equinox Traditions

Przemyslaw "Blueshade" Idzkiewicz
Przemyslaw "Blueshade" Idzkiewicz

Today is the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the point after which the nights become longer than the days, as the North Pole tilts away from the sun. We commonly know it as the first day of fall, although we’ve said goodbye to summer already in the rites of Labor Day and the beginning of the school year. We’ve told you about the traditions and celebrations surrounding the vernal equinox in the spring, and yes, there are traditions for its opposite— although not as many. While the beginning of spring is a joyous occasion, the waning of warm weather is a bit melancholy.

In pagan mythology, the equinox is called Mabon, or Second Harvest. It is a time to give thanks for the summer and to pay tribute to the coming darkness. It is also a time of preparing for Samhain (October 31–November 1), the bigger pagan festival that begins winter. Some Wiccan rituals for Mabon include building an altar with harvest fruits and vegetables, meditating on balance, gathering and feasting on apples, offering apples to the goddess, sharing food, and counting one’s blessings.

Photograph by Flickr user Lazaro Lazo.

Japan marks the equinoxes—both of them—with a period called Ohigan (sometimes spelled O-higan). The Japanese Buddhist belief is that the land of the afterlife is due west, and during the equinoxes, the sun sets directly west. The equinoxes are also symbolic of the transitions of life. The week around each equinox is Ohigan, a time to visit the graves of one's ancestors, to spruce up the grave sites, and to leave flowers. It is also a time of meditation and to visit living relatives.

Photograph by Shizhao.

China and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, which is on the full moon nearest to the equinox. On a lunar calendar, that is the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It is celebrated with the usual festival activities, plus gazing at the moon and eating moon cakes. In the southern U.S., Moon Pies are often used in place of moon cakes. A similar holiday in Korea is called Chuseok

Photograph by Flickr user Matthew Hoelscher.

Michaelmas is the Catholic feast of the Archangel Michael. Some traditions use this feast day to celebrate other archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael as the Feast of the Angels. The feast day is September 29, which is celebrated as the beginning of fall in some places. It is thought that the feast was set near the autumn equinox to draw the faithful away from pagan celebrations, as are several other Christian holidays. Traditions include gathering and eating nuts (which began on Holy Rood Day on September 14), and eating a fattened goose, if you could afford that luxury. In centuries past in England, it was a time of transitions, as servants were paid their wages after the harvest, and workers scrambled to find new employment contracts. The employment fairs that facilitated this custom became an opportunity for community celebration. It is also a good time to eat blackberries, as “Old Michaelmas Day" (October 10th) is traditionally the cutoff time for picking blackberries.

Photograph by Flickr user Government Press Office.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holiday, is 163 days after the first day of Passover. The date of Passover is set to begin the night of the full moon after the vernal equinox, so Rosh Hashanah has only a tangental relationship with the equinox.

Photograph by Flickr user Stonehenge Stone Circle.

Neo-Druids gather at Stonehenge to watch the equinox sunrise. This happens every year, both in spring and fall. As with other pagan groups, the equinox is a time for Druids to offer thanks for a bountiful harvest and prepare for the darkness of winter.

Photograph by Flickr user Stonehenge Stone Circle.

In the West, celebrations surrounding the fall equinox are less about the equinox itself and more about the activities of fall. We have county fairs and festivals, which are scheduled around school calendars and to maximize tourism. We celebrate Halloween all out of proportion to its historic roots, because it’s fun. We decorate with fall colors and harvest fruits for months at a time, and we split our holidays, celebrating the end of summer with Labor Day and giving thanks for a bountiful harvest on Thanksgiving. Together, those are all celebrations of fall.

Photograph by Flickr user Valerie Everett.

In the Southern Hemisphere, today is the first day of spring, which is a whole other holiday.

See also: How Did the Seasons Get Their Names?

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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15 Times Animals Interrupted News Reports

Digital Vision/Getty
Digital Vision/Getty

Live news broadcasts can be a gold mine for humor, especially when an animal is involved. Animals really don’t care if you’re broadcasting live to an audience, and the chaos they can cause once that red light is on is simply hilarious. Luckily for us, these broadcasts can live on forever on the internet, especially once they find their way to YouTube. Here are 15 examples of what can happen when an animal goes rogue during live news.

1. A needy cat

While broadcasting the weather forecasts from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s 14 First Alert chief meteorologist Jeff Lyons gained a new on-air costar. His cat, Betty, became an internet sensation after she interrupted one of his forecasts while seeking some attention. She’s since appeared in many of his subsequent broadcasts, much to the delight of viewers around the world.

2. An excited dog

Technological snafus come with the territory of working from home. Such was the case when Buddy the Golden Retriever accidentally bumped his head into the computer while Paul Dellegatto, Fox News 13-Tampa Bay’s chief meteorologist, gave the forecast. Buddy’s clumsiness caused the digital maps to disappear. With the maps gone, Dellegatto broadcast the weather with Buddy center stage—that is, until the dog ran across the room to greet another person.

3. A pelican attack

In 2010, Steve Jacobs was broadcasting live from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo for an extended segment of the Australian show TODAY. He still had to report on the weather forecast from the remote location, but didn’t get far into it before a pelican bit him on the behind. There’s no way to keep a straight face when that happens.

4. A jumping cat

Nicole DiDonato of WXMI was doing a live news tease in July of 2012 when an intrepid cat jumped up onto her shoulders. When DiDonato returned to do the full report, the cat was still there, attempting to take her attention away from her job.

5. A weather cat

Cats pay no mind whatsoever to conventions like keeping a studio floor clear during a live broadcast. Univision’s Eduardo Rodriguez was presenting a weather report at WLTV in Miami in 2012 when a cat sashayed across the studio floor. Rodriguez kept his composure and finished his report as the crew cracked up in the background.

6. A persistent kitten

At WXYZ in Detroit, a stray kitten decided she wanted to get to know reporter Nima Shaffe just a little bit better. The fact that he was on location for a news report made no difference, and the kitten wouldn’t take "no" for an answer. The station went with it and made the report about the kitten. The local Humane Society took the kitten in and planned to put her up for adoption.

7. Horsing around

A reporter from Macedonia TV tried his best to deliver a story on equestrian training, but a horse named Frankie couldn’t contain his curiosity and affection. It makes perfect sense to put a horse in the background for such a report, but this one wasn’t good at following stage directions. You can see the clip here.

8. A donkey with something to say

This interview from a Russian news channel was placed right in front of a donkey enclosure, which, as you'll see, is never a good idea for a coherent broadcast. The lone donkey in the shot was not going to stand idly by when he had the opportunity to address the audience. We’re not sure what he said, but he came off like a real jackass.

9. Cougar or dog?

One early morning in October 2018, reporter Morgan Saxton was shooting a live segment in Utah's Spring Lake when a mysterious creature interrupted the shot. "What you’re seeing is—actually a dog coming into our live shot,” she said nervously. “I think it’s a dog, I’m not sure. Anyway, there’s some sort of creature below me.” Saxton later shared the segment on Twitter, asking what animal her followers thought it was. Some went feline, saying it was a mountain lion; others, however, said it was a dog. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources ultimately determined, based on the animal's tracks, it was indeed a pupper.

10. A dog crashes the weather report

Meteorologist Ryan Phillips was delivering the weather report at NBC 6 in Miami in January of 2015. Meanwhile, the broadcast crew was preparing for the upcoming “Pet of the Week” segment, featuring a pet from a local animal shelter, Pooches in Pines. King, an American bulldog, couldn’t wait for his turn in front of the camera and decided to jump up on the news desk to get some extra attention from the weather man. King was soon adopted by his foster family.

11. A dog on a lawnmower

In March 2016, Andrea Martinez of KYTX CBS1 9 News was reporting on storm damage in Malakoff, Texas, when a dog on a lawn mower distracted everyone. The dog wasn’t trying to interrupt, but once Martinez saw him, the news crew had to take a closer look. Needless to say, more people saw the dog than would ever see the storm report.

12. Griffey the weather dog

In early 2015, meteorologist John Zeigler was doing his report at KOLR 10 in Springfield, Missouri, when his dog Griffey decided it was time to play. Zeigler distracted the dog by tossing a ball, but Griffey knows how to play fetch, so it was a constant struggle to keep him off-camera. However, Griffey was such a hit that he became the station’s mascot, complete with legions of fans and his own Facebook page.

13. A spider terrorizing a meteorologist

You’re probably familiar with the way broadcast news blends various graphics into the background of weather reports. Broadcasters get used to responding to what’s on the air instead of what’s physically in front of them. But that response went haywire when a spider crawled across the lens of a camera in downtown Vancouver as Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon was giving the weather forecast. She couldn’t help but respond as if the spider were right there with her.

14. A space spider

That wasn’t the first time a spider on a camera lens caused laughter on the air. In 2007, as NASA prepared to launch the space shuttle Atlantis on the oft-delayed mission STS-122, they had a constant video feed on the launch pad. When this segment made YouTube, it came with an announcement:

STS-122 The space shuttle Atlantis will not launch until the new year.
A fuel tank glitch forced mission controllers to delay the launch.
And, fuel sensors weren't the only problem.
The shuttle was also attacked by a giant spider.

15. A trouser snake

When KCCI meteorologist Kurtis Gertz did a live report from the Iowa State Fair in 2008, he volunteered to appear in a snake show. A huge Burmese python named Dawn slithered her tail up into the leg of Gertz’s cargo shorts and out the other leg. It took some time to extract her, and even longer for everyone to stop laughing. The video became a classic.