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Happy Fall DreamBoxers!

Autumn equinox and harvest celebration time has arrived

As of Monday, September 23rd, autumn has officially begun. Many of us who haven’t worn a jacket since June start layering on sweaters and sipping warm mugs of pumpkin spice drinks. But there’s more––the mathematical meaning of the onset of autumn takes us beyond falling leaves and football out into the earth’s orbit around the sun.

The earth’s axis is slanted at an angle of 23.4 degrees in relation to the ecliptic, which is the imaginary plane our planet follows in its journey around the sun. On the first day of autumn, the sun shines directly over the Earth’s equator.

This day is known in planetary science as the “autumnal equinox.” It’s one of just two days in the year when daylight and night time hours are of equal length all over the world––in both the northern and southern hemispheres. This happens again on the first day of spring, at the “vernal equinox.”
Since ancient times, the autumn equinox also coincides with bountiful crop gathering, and grateful storing of ripened fruits and vegetables for winter. This brimming time of plenty ushers in harvest festivals. Across Europe, Asia, India, and the America’s people of many customs and traditions gather at special sites, feast on seasonal foods, and celebrate the generous abundance of the earth.

Learn more here about customs across the northern hemisphere that the equinox has inspired through the ages.

Everyone can join in the fall fun of celebrating this crisp and colorful season that kicks off with the first day of autumn. There may be community gardens in your neighborhood that welcome autumn visitors to sample ripe grapes and roast corn. You and the students in your life could even plant your own winter crops, such as cauliflower, lettuce, and red beets. Then, everyone come on back inside for hot fresh-pressed cider and homemade apple pie.

With the hint of chill in the air, autumn-inspired indoor crafts are in abundant supply. How about compiling a book of leaf prints, or stringing together decorations composed of fall foliage and corn stalk silk? Autumn is an ideal time to make both sweet and pickled preserves. Simmer pumpkin soup. Paint pictures of apples, peaches, plums, pears, and squash. Make lots of zucchini bread and store extra loaves in the freezer. Take photographs and write poems. Feel the creative energy of autumn bring a fresh start to school.

And don’t forget your inner harvest during equinox week. Invite students to think of everything they’ve accomplished and learned since last spring. Have everyone take a moment to be grateful for who they are, along with what they have. In Japan, it is an autumn equinox tradition to honor the ancestors, and remember everyone’s valuable place in the generations of their family tree.

Want to know more about the impact of the equinox? Here are 10 interesting facts about the first day of fall.

And how about some harvest math activities for the youngest students?

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