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Observing the seasons of the earth as it circles the sun is an effective— and downright fun!—way to stay grounded and centered throughout the highs and lows of life. Learning about and taking part in ancient traditions, celebrations, and observations is a way to affirm your place in the lineage of humanity, and a gentle reminder to respect the seasonality of your own body and life.
Seasons occur because the earth is tilted on its axis; as earth travels around the sun, different places will experience varying amounts of sunlight throughout the year. This is especially true the farther one gets from the equator. There are two equinoxes and two solstices in the year. An equinox is when the sun is directly above the equator, resulting in an equal number of hours of daylight and darkness. The two solstices occur when the sun is at its farthest point north or south of the equator. From our perspective here in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the north pole is tilted towards the sun, marking the beginning of summer and the longest number of daylight hours of the year. On the winter solstice, the south pole is closest to the sun, and this day marks for us the start of winter and the shortest day of the year. The following dates are for the northern hemisphere; the seasons are reversed for those in the southern hemipshere.
Spring Equinox (~March 21): First day of spring; equal hours of daylight and dark; on the Wheel of the Year, celebrations include Ostara (~March 21) and Beltane (~May 1).
Summer Solstice (~June 20 ): First day of summer; longest day of the year; on the Wheel of the Year, celebrations include Litha (~June 20) and Lughnasadh (~August 1)
Fall Equinox (~September 22): First day of autumn; equal hours of daylight and dark; on the Wheel of the Year, celebrations include Mabon (~September 22) and Samhain (~November 1)
Winter Solstice (~December 21): First day of winter; shortest day of the year; on the Wheel of the Year, celebrations include Yule (~December 21) and Imbolc (~February 2)
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