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There are two equinoxes every year — in September and March — when the Sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. Seasons are opposite on either side of the Equator, so the equinox in September is also known as the autumnal fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and is considered the first day of fall.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it is known as the vernal spring equinox and marks the first day of spring. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year. On any other day of the year, either the southern hemisphere or the Northern Hemisphere tilts a little towards the Sun. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length — 12 hours — all over the world.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the September equinox marks the start of fall autumn. Many cultures and religions celebrate holidays and festivals around the equinox.
A famous ancient equinox celebration was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox.