(KMID/KPEJ) – With the end of September rapidly approaching, you may start to see the nights becoming longer than the days. This event is marked by the Autumn Equinox, and while this happens every year, you may not know, or remember, why this happens or what the importance is of this event.

According to the National Weather Service, the autumn and spring equinox are the only two times of the year when the Earth’s axis is not tilted toward or away from the sun, providing a “nearly” equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes, or distances from the equator. The “nearly” equal hours of the day and night are caused by the refraction, or bending, of the sunlight that causes the sun to appear to be above the horizon when the sun is still below the horizon.

In addition, the days become a little longer at higher latitudes due to the sun taking longer to rise and set.

The word equinox originates from the Latin words Aequus, meaning equal, and Nox, meaning night.

The Autumn, or Fall, Equinox has been celebrated by civilizations across the world for centuries, recognizing the end of summer and the beginning of harvest season.

According to Discovery, in ancient Greece, the September equinox indicated the return of the goddess Persephone to the darkness of the underworld, where she reunited with her husband, Hades.

While in Japanese culture, the equinox is celebrated by Buddhists with the “Higan,” a seven-day festival remembering deceased relatives and the passing of the seasons. The word “Higan” means “the other shore,” referring to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana.

The fall equinox marks the first day of fall and is on Saturday, September 23, 2023. The day can vary slightly from year to year, but usually falls on September 22nd or 32rd, landing on the 21st or 24th on rare occasions.