Halloween: The year’s fourth astronomical cross-quarter day

Every year, Halloween falls on October 31, and it marks approximately the midpoint between the autumnal equinox (September equinox) and the winter solstice (December solstice).

Halloween is not just a festival. It also shows how much our ancestors knew about astronomy.

Halloween is an astronomical cross-quarter day

Astronomical cross-quarter days
Halloween is the fourth astronomical cross-quarter day of the year. (Image credit: NASA)

Halloween is an astronomical holiday because it is one of the astronomical cross-quarter days of the year.

An astronomical cross-quarter day occurs between a solstice and an equinox. Now there are four astronomical cross-quarter days in a year because there are two solstices and two equinoxes.

These four astronomical cross-quarter days are celebrated as Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas Day (August 1) and Halloween (October 31) in different cultures around the world.

So Halloween is the fourth and last astronomical cross-quarter day.

Halloween marks the beginning of winter season

Many ancient cultures around the world, like the Celts of the British Isles and the Shinto societies of Japan, mark Halloween as the beginning of the winter season and the end of summer, or “Samhain”.

Connection between Halloween and the Moon

The moon starts to rule as Halloween falls
The moon starts to rule as Halloween falls. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

As Halloween marks the beginning of the winter season so the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting bigger. In other words, we’ll start getting more moonlight than sunlight.

So Halloween marks the beginning of the time of year that is ruled by the moon.

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About the Author

Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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