Spectacular? Frightening? Solar eclipses seen through time

The complete “ring of fire,” which is expected to occur at around 4:10 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. for less than a minute, has different meanings across various cultures. (NOWnews/Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A solar eclipse is set to occur on June 21 (Sunday), and people across nine counties in Taiwan will be able to witness this natural phenomenon. 

According to the Taipei Astronomical Museum (臺北市立天文科學教育館), if you miss out on this rare occurrence, which is set to begin at 2:45 p.m. until 5:26 p.m., you’ll have to wait another 195 years to see an eclipse here. 

To prepare for this historic event, which will last for a total of 2 hours and 42 minutes, and get you in the right mood from the start, here are some intriguing folk tales from various cultures from around the world.

The Chinese believed that a dragon eating the sun is the cause of an eclipse. (Shutterstock)

Chinese Culture

In ethnic Chinese communities, it’s believed that a dragon eating the sun is the main reason for a solar eclipse. Against this backdrop, Chinese people would usually produce loud noises with the help of drums to scare off the dragon and prevent it from consuming the sun. 

As the moon always moves away from the sun after a short while, Chinese people were convinced that their actions really did work; thus, becoming an integral part of the local cultures.

The Vikings believed that wolves were trying to devour the sun and moon. (Shutterstock)

Scandinavian Culture

As with many other early cultures, the Vikings believed that the sun was being consumed when an eclipse occurred.

Their folklore involves two wolves, Hati and Skoll, who sought to eat the sun and moon, respectively.

With this observation in mind, the townspeople would make loud noises to try and scare off the wolves, as they believed that if the wolves did devour the sun and moon, then Ragnarok, or the apocalypse, would ensue.

A statue of the Indian entity, Rahu. (Shutterstock)

Indian Culture 

According to Hindu mythology, an entity by the name of Rahu strove to drink the elixir of the gods, which granted immortality.

However, his plot was discovered by Vishnu (the protector of the universe), who promptly beheaded him, causing his decapitated head to drift through the sky and eventually ending in front of the Sun. 

Other versions say that Rahu actually drank a sip of the elixir, though before it could reach the rest of his body, he was beheaded, thus making his head immortal. 

It’s said that in anger, Rahu went on an everlasting quest to eat the sun, though when he does, it quickly reappears, as he has no throat. 

A tribe in Dassa, Benin. (Shutterstock)

West African Culture

According to a West African legend, the Batammaliba, ancient people from Northern Togo and Benin believed that an eclipse occurred when humans fought or were angry with each other; thus, spreading it to the sun and moon. 

Legendary first mothers, Puka Puka and Kuiyecoke, persuaded the people to stop fighting to convince the sun and moon to stop their brawl and end the eclipse. 

Whenever an eclipse appears, the Batammaliba people would set aside their differences and make amends with each other to keep the sun and moon at peace.