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How did Valentine’s Day originate, anyway?
During Pagan times, February 13th was celebrated as the Eve of Lupercalia, a festival of Spring, new beginnings and fertility.
 
The festival was in honor of Lupa, who was a she-wolf that helped nurse orphaned infants who otherwise would have died from malnourishment. The day was meant to celebrate fertility and was said to clear the city of evil spirits.
 
After the cold and harsh winter, the festival was also said encourage an abundant Spring season where crops would grow and animals would mate. All rituals conducted around this time were designed to help increase fertility and abundance, and bring about the start of a new cycle.
 
It wasn’t until the Catholic Church came into power that the day became a celebration of Saint Valentine.
 
Valentine was a Catholic priest who was actually imprisoned for helping Christians and fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. He exchanged many secret love notes with her that were signed off with- “From Your Valentine”.
 
It wasn’t long before the celebration of the she-wolf Lupa, morphed into the tradition of Saint Valentine’s Day.
 
Today, Valentine’s Day marks the most popular day for sales of cards, roses and chocolates however, you don’t need to get caught up in all the hype.
 
Instead, use this day as a reminder to love yourself, regardless of your relationship status.
 
You can also go back to pagan times and celebrate the dawning of Spring, new beginnings and fertility instead.
A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Catholic Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed 14 February Saint Valentine’s Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints. The poet Chaucer in the Middle Ages was the first to link St Valentine with romantic love.
 
Source: foreverconscious.com

Día de los Muertos:

“Day of the Dead is an opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us and, in doing so, keep their spirits alive. I like to think about the afterlife as two different worlds – one inhabited by people who are no longer living but continue to be remembered by friends and relatives, and the other inhabited by those who have been forgotten. The world of those who are remembered is filled with joy and celebration, whereas the world of the forgotten is filled with darkness and despair. And I ask myself, ‘Which of these worlds would I want for my loved ones?’ Day of the Dead is a way for me to actively allow the memories of loved ones to continue to guide and influence my life. As my children help create altars each year, they learn about loved ones they never had the opportunity to meet. Community altars, such as this one, provide an opportunity for us all to connect with the rich historical and cultural roots of our ancestors.”

— Artist Monica Vega, from Michoacan, Mexico, a region with a strong and longstanding tradition of Día de los Muertos

 

WHAT IS THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX?

Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moorIrish proverb

The autumnal equinox—also called the September or fall equinox—is the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why is it called an equinox? The word comes from the Latin aequus, meaning “equal” and nox, meaning “night.”

During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator.” Imagine a line that marks the equator on Earth extending up into the sky above the equator from north to south. Earth’s two hemispheres receive the Sun’s rays about equally. The Sun is overhead at noon as seen from the equator, so at this point, the amount of nighttime and daytime (sunlight) are roughly equal to each other.

See the sunrise and sunset for YOUR location.

After the autumnal equinox, the nights will get longer and the days shorter until the December solstice near Christmas.

To learn more about all four seasons and see when they begin, see First Day of Seasons.

Fall bridge

FALL WEATHER

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Another definition of fall is “nights of below-freezing temperatures combined with days of temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21°C)”. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop.

Will fall bring crisp, cool weather—or, unseasonably warm weather? It depends on where you live! Find out the forecast for your area in the new 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac!

Fall Foliage

Note that fall foliage isn’t due to current weather conditions. This is a common misperception. Leaves change color because of the amount of daylight and photosynthesis. Learn more about autumn leaves.

Japanese maple leaf in fall

FALL EQUINOX FAQS

Q: ARE DAY AND NIGHT PERFECTLY EQUAL ON THE EQUINOX?

A: No. Even on the equinox, day and night aren’t perfectly equal! However, they are very close to equal (the lengths may be off by only a few minutes). Why does this happen?

It depends where you live. On the equinox, the center of the Sun is above the horizon for 12 hours. However, “sunrises” is said to begin when the upper edge of the Sun’s disk becomes visible above the horizon (which happens a bit before the center rises) and ends when the entire Sun has set. In this case, daylight is longer than 12 hours.

Not only that, but the Sun is actually visible when it is below the horizon, as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s rays and bends them in an arc over the horizon. Yes, you can actually see the Sun before the edge actually reaches the horizon! This causes daylight to be longer than 12 hour as well.

Did you know our rise/set tool now provide day length? In Dublin, New Hampshire—home of The Old Farmer’s Almanac—our day length on the equinox is 12:08 hours. See day length where you live!

Q: IS THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX REALLY THE FIRST DAY OF FALL?

A: Based on the astronomical definition of seasons, yes, the autumnal equinox does mark the first day of fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). However, according to the meteorological definition of seasons, which is based on temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar, the first day of fall is September 1.

Q: CAN YOU BALANCE AN EGG ON THE EQUINOX?

A: There’s an old-wife’s tale that you can stand an egg on its end of the equinox. Well, yes, but it’s not just on the equinox. Still it’s it’s a bit of fun.  Try it!

See more fun facts and myths about the old, misunderstood equinox from Almanac astronomer, Bob Berman.

autumnal-equinox-fall.jpg

NATURE’S SIGNS OF FALL

What are you signs of fall? In many regions of North America, the landscape silently explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange. The leaves begin to drop off the trees, providing endless hours of jumping into leaf piles for kids and raking them back up for parents!

Trees snapping and cracking in the autumn indicate dry weather.

Fall also brings some wonderful holidays including Halloween and Thanksgiving which carry us through the season until temperatures begin to drop, nights begin to get longer, and all the woodland critters start storing up for the long haul of winter.

And then don’t forget about the end of Daylight Saving Time when you “fall” back, setting your clocks back one hour and regaining an hour of sleep.

Plants and trees are slowing down, as sunlight decreases. In the garden, asters and chrysanthemums bloom beautifully as orange pumpkins and corn mazes abound.

Football season is warming up and so is sweater weather.

Also notice the arc of the sun across the sky each day as it starts shifting south. Birds and butterflies migrate along with the path of our Sun!

Of course, you can you can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets. See our sunrise/set tool for your area!

Purple Aster
Aster flowers

ANCIENT AUTUMN TRADITIONS

The fall equinox has been a day of celebration for cultures since ancient days. People tracked the transitions of the Earth’s journeys around the Sun.

  • At Machu Picchu in Peru, an ancient stone monument called Intihuatana—which means “Hitching Post of the Sun”—serves as a solar clock to mark the dates of the equinoxes and solstices.
  • In Mexico, the Mayans built a giant pyramid called Chichen Itza. On the equinoxes, it looks as if a snake made of light slithers down the pyramid’s steps.
  • In England, Stonehedge was also built with the equinoxes and solstices in mind.

See Five Ancient Sites Aligned With the Equinoxes and Solstices.

ENJOY AUTUMN!

Wishing a colorful, cool, cozy autumn to all our Almanac readers. Tell us your favorite things about the fall season below!

Source: https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-fall-autumnal-equinox
Happy Summer Solstice!
 
Summer Solstice 2018 in Northern Hemisphere will be at 5:07 AM on Thursday, June 21…
 
http://theconversation.com/what-is-the-summer-solstice-an-astronomer-explains-98270
The Fifth Great Lesson: The Story of Numbers

The last of the five great lessons is also called the History of Mathematics. Montessori’s fifth great lesson tells the story of the beginning of math and geometry. Starting with one to one correspondence, it takes us through the development of numerals, the discovery of zero, the invention of modern geometry, and finally how the binary number system is used to run modern computers.
 
Check out the video and just imagine if we all were to learn math this way. Perhaps none of our children would ever hear the phrase, “I’m not good at math.”
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHXpCLx3Nak
 
This lesson leads to the study of:
 
Mathematics: operations, fractions, decimals, multiples, squares, cubes, percentages, ratio, probability, intro to algebra
Numbers: origins of numbers and systems, bases, types of numbers, scientific notation, mathematicians
Geometry: congruency, similarity, nomenclature of lines, angles, shapes, solids, measurement, theorems
Application: story problems, measurement, estimation, graphs, patterning, rounding, money concepts
 
Source: www.montessoriforeveryone.com and ETC Montessori