Autumn Equinox is the 16th solar term of the year. It begins on Sept 23 and ends on Oct 8. Autumn Equinox lies at the midpoint of autumn, dividing autumn into two equal parts. After that day, the location of direct sunlight moves to the south, making days shorter and nights longer in the northern hemisphere.
Here are some features and traditions about Autumn Equinox.
As it is said in the ancient book, The Detailed Records of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), "It is on the Autumn Equinox day that the Yin and Yang are in a balance of power. Thus the day and night are of equal length, and so are the cold and hot weather."
Since the Autumn Equinox, most of the areas in China have entered the cool autumn. When the cold air southward meets the declining warm and wet air, precipitation is the result. The temperature also drops frequently.
In South China, there is a custom popularly known as "having Qiucai (autumn vegetable) on the Autumn Equinox day". Qiucai is a kind of wild amaranth. Every Autumn Equinox day, all the villagers go to pick Qiucai in the wild. Qiucai is verdant in the field, thin, and about 20 cm in length. Qiucai is taken back and made into soup with fish, named "Qiutang" (autumn soup). There is a verse about the soup: "Drink the soup to clear the liver and intestines, thus the whole family will be safe and healthy".
The Autumn Equinox is the time for smelling the fragrance of osmanthug. At this time, it is hot in the day and cool in the night in South China, so people have to wear a single layer when it is hot, and lined clothing when it is cool. This period is named "Guihuazheng" in Chinese, which means osmanthus mugginess.
Standing eggs on end
On Autumn Equinox day, there are thousands of people in the world trying to make eggs stand on end. This Chinese custom has become the world's game.
According to experts, on the Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox, the day and night are of equal time both in the southern and northern hemispheres. The earth's axis, on its 66.5 degree tilt, is in a relative balance of power with the earth's orbit around the sun. Thus it is a very conducive time for standing eggs on end.