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Halloween is a cross-quarter day

EarthSky | Updates on your cosmos and world EarthSky | Updates on your cosmos and world
by Bruce McClure


Halloween is a cross-quarter day

Halloween is short for All Hallows’ Eve. And, although many don’t realize it, it’s an astronomical holiday. Sure, it’s the modern-day descendant of Samhain, a sacred festival of the ancient Celts and Druids in the British Isles. But it’s also a cross-quarter day and a testament to our ancestors’ deep understanding of the sky.

The cross-quarter days fall more or less midway between the equinoxes (when the sun sets due west) and solstices (when the sun sets at its most northern or southern point on the horizon). Halloween – October 31 – is approximately midway between our autumn (September) equinox and winter (December) solstice.

In other words, in traditional astronomy, there are eight major seasonal subdivisions of every year. They include the March and September equinoxes, the June and December solstices, and the intervening four cross-quarter days…


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