Elvira de Paz (Profesora de Inglés y Francés)
Long before we started to use calendars to move from one season to the next, ancient civilisations used the harvests, the sun, the moon and the stars to have an idea of how time passed. Autumn begins with the autumnal or September equinox, when the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. This day (22nd, 23rd or 24th September) was the first day of the French Republican Calendar.
The Autumnal equinox is celebrated in several countries, such as Iran, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom. There are also a variety of traditions that take place in the world during autumn (remember that, when it’s autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s spring in the Southern Hemisphere!). We all know about Halloween, but let’s learn about other celebrations:
In India, they celebrate “Diwali”, the Festival of Lights. It marks the Hindu New Year. They celebrate the goddess Lakshmi coming to visit their houses (she brings wealth and prosperity). They set off firecrackers and fireworks and exchange gifts.
In Mexico, they celebrate the “Día de Muertos”. They pray for their loved ones who have passed away, like we do here in Spain, but their tradition comes from the Aztecs. They decorate altars, clean up the graves and make chocolate and sugar skulls.
In Saudi Arabia, Muslims celebrate “Eid al-Ahda”, or the Festival of Sacrifice. It commemorates the Biblical story of Abraham, who almost sacrificed his own son to show obedience and trust to God. People dress in their best clothes, sacrifice their best animal and give donations to the poor.
In the UK, they celebrate Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes on the 5th November. They fill the sky with fireworks to commemorate the “Gunpowder Plot”, a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London that didn’t succeed, and the survival of the king, James the first.