September 2021 --- by Stephen Gates
Here are some interesting facts on people and observances associated with the Month of September as well as a little primer on the Autumn Equinox.
Labor Day is the most well-known Holiday in September. It is observed every year on the first Monday in September.
Grandparent’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month.
The worst terrorist attack on the United States occurred on September 11, 2001.
Constitution Day celebrating the ratification of the governing document of the USA is observed on the 17th.
Native American day is observed on the 4th Sunday of September.
September is also when the equinox occurs. The Autumn Equinox which is the traditional transition from Summer into Fall takes place on or about the 22nd, depending on the year. As an aside, the equinox is the astronomical beginning of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The word equinox comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal” and nox meaning “night.” On the Equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length. During the equinox, the Sun crosses what is called the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of the Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from North to South, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses South to North, this marks the vernal equinox. After the autumnal equinox, the Sun rises later and nightfall comes sooner. This ends with the December solstice, when days start to grow longer and nights shorter.
The fall equinox has been a day of celebration for cultures since ancient days. People tracked the transitions of the Earth’s journeys around the Sun. At Machu Picchu in Peru, an ancient stone monument called Intihuatana (hitching post of the Sun) serves as a solar clock. In Mexico, the Mayans built a giant pyramid called the Chichen Itza. On the equinoxes, it looks as if a snake made of light slithers down the pyramid’s steps. In England, Stonehenge was also built with the equinoxes and solstices in mind.
There is an old-wife’s tale that you can stand an egg on its end on the equinox. Here’s another interesting fact…fall foliage isn’t due to current weather conditions. This is a common misconception. Leaves change color because of the amount of daylight and photosynthesis. The arc of the Sun across the sky each fall day shifts South. Birds and butterflies migrate along with the path of our Sun.
Fall also brings the end of Daylight Saving Time, when we “fall” back, setting our clocks back one hour and regaining an hour of precious sleep.
Famous September Birthdays include: Rocky Marciano on 9/1, Former Alabama Governor George Wallace and Christa McAuliffe were both born on 9/2. 9/5 brought us wild west legend Jesse James, while 9/6 was the birthday of Marquis de Lafayette. Athlete Jesse Owens was born on 9/12. General John J. Pershing was born on 9/13. President William H. Taft was born on the 15th. September 24th was the birthday of F. Scott Fitzgerald, followed by William Faulkner on the 25th. 9/27 was the birthday of Samuel Adams, while 9/30 was the day Truman Capote arrived.