We do not get fall in Florida like many of the Northern States do. That is, the leaves do not change color and fall off the trees like in this picture. Fall in Florida look pretty much just like the rest of the year, although we get a lot of violent thunderstorms in the evening. Perhaps that is why they call it fall, because the rain to that.
Fall is nice though because it a little cooler, although unless you live in Florida, it's probably not so much cooler that you'd notice it.
There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 21st day of the last month of every quarter of the calendar year. This year it is Monday, September 22nd.
On a day which has an equinox, the center of the Sun will spend a nearly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth and night and day will be of nearly the same length. The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night). In reality, the day is longer than the night at an equinox.
Astrologically, on the day of the fall solstice, the sun enters the sign of Libra -- the constellation of the balance or scales.
In ancient Britain, both the solstices and equinoxes "were the highly sophisticated preoccupation of the mysterious Megalithic peoples who pre-dated Celt, Roman and Saxon on Europe's Atlantic fringe by thousands of years." Stonehenge and other stone structures were aligned so that the solstices and equinoxes could be determined.
In ancient Ireland, the spring and fall equinox were also celebrated in ancient times. A cluster of megalithic cairns are scattered through the hills at Loughcrew, about 55 miles North West of Dublin in Ireland. Longhcrew Carin is a passage tomb which is designed so that the light from the rising sun on the spring and summer equinoxes penetrates a long corridor and illuminates a backstone, which is decorated with astronomical symbols.
At this time of the year, the ancient Celts conducted a mock sacrifice of a large wicker-work figure which represented the vegetation spirit. This might have been the origin of Julius Caesar's comment in his Gallic Wars that the Druids performed human sacrifices. Although he never witnessed a human sacrifice and never met anyone who had, this story has been accepted and repeated often enough to be accepted as truth. The Celtic mock sacrifice has been reborn in the Burning Man Project, a yearly fall festival celebrated for one week in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The movie "The Wicker Man" was based on the Celtic tradition; to say more would ruin the film if you are seeing it for the first time.
In more modern times, Wiccans recognize eight seasonal days of celebration. Four are minor sabbats and occur at the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The other are major sabbats which happen approximately halfway between an equinox and solstice. Wiccans may celebrate Mabon on the evening before, or at sunrise on the morning of the equinox, or at the exact time of fall equinox.
Mabon is the second and main Wiccan harvest festival.
Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary comments: "The Goddess manifests in Her Bountiful Mother aspects. The God emerges as the Corn King and Harvest Lord. Colors are Orange, Dark Red, Yellow, Indigo, and Brown. It is the festival of thanksgiving."
Lee Wavedancer of Witch on the Go.com comments that the Wiccan God "has sacrificed the last of Himself to provide us with a final harvest of food before the winter begins. Celebrants gather to mark the turning of the wheel and to give thanks for the ultimate sacrifice of The God, recognizing that He will be reborn at Yule. This holiday has been called 'The Witches' Thanksgiving' and is a time for feasting together with family and friends."
The author of the Pagan Family Circle writes: "While in the past, most all were farmers, this harvest festival traditionally applies to the harvest of foods, yet in this day and age, the 'harvest' may also apply to the 'seeds of dreams and wishes' that were planted many months earlier. Now is the time to see if they have come true. Whether they have come true or not ... a ritual to thank the growing energies of the God and the fertility of the Goddess should be preformed at this time. Lay upon your altar a sampling of your 'harvest'.... use it freely in your ritual. (Note: even if your 'harvest' came up empty, IE: your dreams were not fulfilled, the God and Goddess should still be thanked for the effort put forth in your name)"
The Christian Church replaced earlier Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations during Medieval times, with Christianized observances. Replacing the fall equinox is Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael, on September 29. "His feast was celebrated with a traditional well-fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of the fields after the harvest. In many places, a there was also a tradition of special large loaves of bread made only for that day. By Michaelmas the harvest had to be completed and the new cycle of farming would begin. It was a time for beginning new leases, rendering accounts and paying the annual dues."
Whatever religion you follow, or perhaps none at all, I hope you enjoy your Autumn Equinox today and welcome in the nice cool fall weather after a long and hot summer.