Autumn, the season of abundance, arrives with the Autumn Equinox on the 23rd of September. This a period when the lengths of day and night are about equal. It’s a season of changing leaves, brisk air, and plentiful harvests of pumpkins, cranberries, brussels sprouts, and apples. As the weather cools, we revert to our routines in preparation for the chillier days ahead.
In contrast to our modern signs such as back-to-school sales and pumpkin spice everything, ancient civilizations recognized the changing seasons by observing the position of the sun. The sun rises due east and sets due west during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, heralding longer evenings and declining daylight. This transition has traditionally been marked by the reaping of harvest crops. Here are five creative ideas to help you celebrate the fall equinox in your own unique way, inspired by these old traditions.
Harvest potluck: Gather with friends and family to celebrate abundance
The traditional Chinese ritual of honoring the harvest moon, the full moon closest to the fall equinox, dates back to the Shang dynasty. This custom is carried forward in modern harvest festivals, where the successful harvest of rice and wheat is celebrated with moonlit gatherings that include shared meals under the night sky.
Equinox celebration Idea: Host a harvest potluck with your loved ones to celebrate the season’s bounty. Each guest is invited to bring a meal made with their favorite harvest ingredients.
Sunrise yoga: Finding harmony with nature
The term “equinox” derives from the Latin words “aequi” and “nox,” which mean “equal night.” This notion represents the balance that Earth experiences during the equinox, when day and night are roughly equal in length, lasting about 12 hours each.
Equinox celebration idea: Celebrate the equinox with a morning yoga session that helps you align with nature’s cycle. As you move through yoga positions, you’ll release muscle tension while revitalizing your body. Find a sunny area at home or attend an outdoor sunrise yoga class.
Reflection on the equinox: A time for meditation
The vernal and autumnal equinoxes are considered significant dates in the agricultural calendar. The planting season begins in the spring, and crops are nourished during the summer months. As the weather cools and the days become shorter in the fall, the crop is harvested and stored for the winter.
Equinox celebration idea: Create a pleasant spot, called a “hyggekrog” in Danish, where you can reflect on your own harvests for the Equinox. As the year comes to a close, consider what bloomed in the spring and thrived during the summer, contributing to the bounty you’ll enjoy in the fall. Consider how your efforts have nourished different elements of your life since the vernal equinox in March. If you are so inclined, write down your autumn thoughts and aspirations so you can revisit them during the winter solstice.
Connect with nature’s bounty by fall foraging
Our ancestors relied on foraging for sustenance before the development of agricultural communities. Acorns and walnuts offered calorie-dense sustenance, including protein, in the fall.
Equinox celebration idea: Go on an autumn foraging trip to immerse yourself in the bounty of the season. While admiring the brilliant autumn foliage, gather berries, tree roots, and nuts to add to your fall dinners. Cattails, for example, have a starchy substance inside their long brown rootstocks that is great for thickening your favorite fall soups and stews. You can also gather beautiful leaves and pinecones to add a natural touch to your decor.
Gratitude campfire: Celebrate the seasons
The Pagan community celebrates the autumn equinox with the Mabon celebration, which honors the change of seasons. Mabon rites emphasize the balance of light and dark, symbolizing the approaching winter darkness. Fire plays an important part, marking the transition from the blazing foliage of autumn to the extended, dark nights of the winter solstice.
Equinox celebration idea: Commemorate the start of the season with an equinox campfire. Form a gratitude circle around the fire with your closest friends and family. Each person can share what they’re most thankful for this holiday season, reflecting on how it’s helped them reach their own personal equilibrium. Of course, if you live in a region that is at high risk for wildfires, then a simple gratitude circle without the campfire is a safe and wonderful alternative.