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Harvest Festivals In Great Britain: The people of the British Isles have given thanks at fall harvest festivals since pagan times. Harvest festivals traditionally were held on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon. Early English settlers took the harvest festival tradition with them to America. These tradition festivals, once celebrated around the equinox, formed the basis of American Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate in November.
Greek Mythology: To the ancient Greeks, the September equinox marks the return of the goddess Persephone to the darkness of the underworld, where she is reunited with her husband Hades.
Chinese Harvest Moon Festival: The full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox is sometimes called the Harvest Moon. The Chinese began celebrating the fall harvest at the Harvest Moon centuries ago, during the Shang dynasty. Ancient Chinese celebrated the successful harvest of rice and wheat and made offerings to the moon. Ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people still celebrate the Harvest Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, lanterns adorn streets and family and friends gather to give thanks, share food and watch the moon. Round pastries, called mooncakes, are often enjoyed at this time.
Japanese Higan: Higan is a holiday celebrated by some Japanese Buddhists. It takes place twice a year, during the fall and spring equinoxes. During Higan, Japanese Buddhists will return to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors. Higan means “from the other shore of the Sanzu River.” In Buddhist tradition, crossing the mythical Sanzu River meant passing into the afterlife.
French Republican Calendar: During the French Revolution, the French government designed and implemented a new yearly calendar. Each new year would start at midnight on the day of the autumnal equinox. In the revolutionary attempt to rid the calendar of religious or royalist influence, each month was named after a natural element.
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