This year the Spring Equinox will take place on Friday March 20. In the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, Kukulkan will make its descent on the afternoons of March 20th, 21st and 22nd.
Kukulkan represents a mystical deity surrounded by a number of legends and stories. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Kukulkan ruled over Chichen Itza during the 10th Century.
One of the many legends that surround the “feathered snake” is that of Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs who arrived to the Yucatan Peninsula after he was exiled from the Toltec capitol of Tula. After promising the Aztecs to return, he arrived on a bed of snakes to rule the Mayans of the Gulf of Mexico.
Every year, thousands of people travel to Chichen Itza—one of the New Seven Wonders of the World—to witness the symbolic descent of the deity. This incredible example of the Mayan’s architectural intelligence is created when the sunlight bathes the western part of the pyramid’s main stairway. Seven isosceles triangles are formed and compose the body of the 37 yard-long serpent that creeps downwards until it joins the serpent’s head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway. Kukulkan ”the feathered snake” descends twice a year during the spring and autumn equinoxes.
An equinox occurs when the sun, in its orbit around the earth, passes directly over the Earth’s equator making the length of daylight and evening hours equal.
The word equinox is derived from the Latin word for equal “aequus” and “nox” meaning night. The fall equinox happens on September. The snake descends from around March 20th to the 22nd, but its effects are most dramatic on the actual day of the equinox.
Kukulkan’s pyramid was built for astronomical purposes. The staircase on all four sides is made of 91 steps on each side totaled with the last step on top equal the 365 days in a solar year. The event is the most dramatic display of Mayan astronomical knowledge encoded into architecture.
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