On September 22, 2021 at 9:21 p.m. German time, the astronomical autumn begins in the northern hemisphere. The day there is longer than the night one last time, and then the dark season begins for us.
Equinox as an important event for the Maya
Thatequinox is mostly just a marginal phenomenon for us today, about which we are only informed twice a year by Spiegel Online and the like. But for ancient cultures, the equinox was an important event.
The Maya, for example, integrated this astronomical event into one of their most important pyramids. The edges of the pyramidEl Castillo, located on the site of the world-renowned archaeological siteChichen Itza is located, cast a snake-shaped shadow around the two equinoxes in spring and autumn, which ends in the stone head at the foot of the pyramid. The pyramid was dedicated to the Mayan god Kukulcan dedicated, which is often depicted as a feathered serpent.d.
Do you see the snake??
The Legend of Quetzalcoatl
The Aztecs knew a similar god who was also depicted as a feathered serpent. they called himQuetzalcoatl. According to the mythology of the Aztecs, who then inhabited what is now Mexico, the god Quetzalcoatl transformed himself into a human and descended from heaven to impart his wisdom to the people. But he didn't come empty-handed, he brought a gift with him: a plant that he had secretly stolen from his fellow gods.
Can you already guess which plant it was?
Quetzalcoatl brought cocoa to man
According to this legend, Quetzalcoatl brought the cocoa plant to earth. He planted the first cacao tree in the fields of Tula and askedthe water godTlalocto provide the tree with rain. The small tree bore fruit and Quetzalcoatl taught the local people to collect the cocoa pods, roast the seeds inside, grind them between stone slabs and whisk them with water in large drinking vessels to prepare aromatic chocolate.
Portrait of a Chocolate Drinker, from the Codex Borgia, Mexico, c.1500
It flowed hundreds of liters of chocolate...
Chocolate was enjoyed as a ritual drink by all high cultures of Mesoamerica for celebrations of all kinds. So we can safely assume that hundreds of liters of cocoa flowed down the temple pyramid of El Castillo in what is now Mexico every year, just in time for the equinox.
Chocolate only for VIPs
According to some anthropologists, chocolate was intended only for the upper classes of society, primarily priests and political rulers. The mob only rarely enjoyed this sacred drink, and only at an extremely unfortunate time: ritual human sacrifices, for which Mesoamerican religions are known, allowed the sacrificed to consume the brown gold before execution. Luckily those times are over and mere mortals like you and I can now enjoy our cocoa while the northern hemisphere prepares for winter.
Happy equinox! ☀️
PS: Yes, the equinox is really today and not yesterday on September 21st. This is because the earth does not have a perfect, circular orbit around the sun. More on thishere.