Bad Weather Keeps Kukulcan Away on ‘Equinox’

March 24th, 2008 by ejalbright

Rain washed out the annual arrival of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza (photo by chor)

Overcast skies prevented Kukulcan, the feathered serpent, from slithering down the great pyramid at Chichen Itza on Friday, the “official” day of the spring equinox.

Thousands surrounded El Castillo, the giant temple of Kukulcan, hoping the sun would break through the crowds in late afternoon and reveal the shadows that play along the balustrade on the northern staircase that make it appear a giant serpent is crawling down the pyramid. The sun did manage to break through around 4 p.m., about a half hour before the full effect can be seen, but then a huge cloud buried the sun and the crowd estimated at 20,000 was ultimately disappointed.

Once it became clear that there would be no show on this day, the crowd evacuated the site in less than 10 minutes, according to one news report. The failure of Kukulcan to appear was the final indignity of a day of rain and heavy winds.

Ironically, March 21, although the traditional day of the beginning of spring, was not the equinox. Thanks in part to this being a leap year and February getting an extra day, the equinox actually occurred two days earlier, on March 19. On that day, the skies were clear and anyone visiting Chichen Itza would have seen the seven isoceles triangles projected as shadows on the northern balustrade, heralding the equinox and the return of Kukulcan.

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