15 Fall Equinox Traditions To Start With Your Family
The "Fall Equinox" goes by many names, depending on your family’s culture and lifestyle. There’s the Autumnal Equinox, the First Day of Fall, and if you’re Pagan, it’s Mabon. Regardless of what you call it, it’s fun to come up with Fall Equinox traditions to start with your family. I’ll take any excuse to do fun themed activities and enjoy special food and drink to be honest, and the Fall Equinox is definitely a good time to partake.
In 2020, the Fall Equinox falls on September 22, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac website. This is the official start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and “it occurs at the same moment worldwide,” per the Almanac. It’s called an “Equinox” from Latin meaning “equal” and “nox” meaning “night,” and the length of daylight and length of darkness at night are equal on this day.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac website noted, “During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the 'celestial equator' — an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.”
Starting on this day, the sun will begin to rise later in the day, and darkness comes sooner, that is until the Winter Solstice, when the opposite occurs — which you can also celebrate as the return to light.
And if you’re Pagan, the lore surrounding this special day is to treat it almost like the holiday Thanksgiving, according to learnreligions.com. “For many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it’s a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it’s having abundant crops or other blessings,” the website notes. “It’s a time of plenty, of gratitude, and of sharing our abundance with those less fortunate.”
No matter how you celebrate, there are a lot of fun activities and traditions you can start with your family.
1. Go For A Hike
What better way to celebrate a new season than to go enjoy it in nature? Going for a hike is a wonderful way to get some exercise, all while enjoying family time and possibly even picking up some materials for fall-themed arts and crafts.
2. Volunteer & Donate
Since this is the holiday for giving thanks and counting your blessings in Pagan households, your family can take advantage of this by doing your own "fall cleaning" like a "spring clean," and donating your items to those less fortunate. You can also volunteer at a food bank, or do any other kind of community service to really get into the spirit.
3. Make Pumpkin Recipes
4. Leaf Rubbing Activity
I remember doing this and really enjoying it as a kid. Maybe on your new fall equinox traditional hike, grab some leaves, and when you return home, check out this Leaf Rubbing Activity from KC Edventures and make a leaf print from rubbing either a crayon, oil pastel, or colored pencil over a sheet of wax paper. You can then discuss all the different parts of the leaf if you'd like, or just use the rubbing for some fun DIY fall decor.
5. Visit An Apple Orchard
Our family really enjoys apple picking, and thanks to our location of living in the city of Atlanta — which is somewhat in the middle of the state — we've got options for locations to go apple picking to the north and south of us. Check out this Reader's Digest list to find where you can go apple picking in your state. If you're feeling Pagan or celebrating Mabon, talk about how folks in earlier times would pick these apples for harvest and use them directly from the source. Celebrate getting back to nature and your agricultural roots.
Apples are associated with divination, the underworld, and eternal life in many types of folklore, according to learnreligions.com. It can also be a symbol for abundance.
6. Decorate Your Home
Since we will be spending a lot more time at home now that fall has arrived and it will get lighter later and darker earlier, now's the time to clean and decorate, making your home look and feel cozy. Learnreligions.com suggests putting sickles, scythes, and bales of hay around your yard, and placing leaves, gourds, and twigs in baskets around your home. The website also suggests in addition to physically cleaning your house, you should also metaphysically cleanse your house with a smoke cleanse.
7. Do a Ritual Smoke Cleanse
You can use sweetgrass, sage, or any bundled herb if your choice, according to learnreligions.com, and go through your home and "bless each room." You can even use incense if you prefer, but the point of all of this is to have the smoke carry negative energies out of your home and cleansing it for the rest of the season. Don't forget to open the windows so the negative energy can leave.
"Go clockwise around your house (usually starting at the front door), and gently wave the smoke into the air. Spend a bit more time smudging the room corners, as they tend to accumulate stagnant energy. Be sure to also open the closet doors and carefully smudge inside. Do not forget about spaces such as the laundry room, the garage, or the basement," Feng Shui expert Rodika Tchi recommended on the website.
8. Create a "Food Altar" Or Tablescape
Go ahead and set up your table for Thanksgiving while you're at it, I know you'll enjoy looking at it until the big day. And if you want to take it a step further in honor of the Fall Equinox or Mabon, you can create a food altar.
Learnreligions.com says, "In most Pagan traditions, Mabon, the autumn equinox, is a celebration of the second harvest season. It's a time when we're gathering the bounty of the fields, the orchards and the gardens, and bringing it in for storage ... why not invite friends or other members of your group, if you're part of one, to gather their garden treasures and place them on your Mabon altar during ritual?" You can look at the bounty of your "harvest" all in one place.
The website suggests using apples (maybe from when you went apple picking?), berries, grapes, nuts, corn, wheat, potatoes, pumpkins, onions, etc., as decoration and/or creating your altar/tablescape. "Your altar should be dressed in the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, damsons, sloes, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, the possibilities are large. If you collect from the wild, be not greedy — always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures."
9. Make A Fall Wreath Together
10. Make Fresh Bread
As with most harvest celebrations, bread is an important thing to bake to celebrate the Fall Equinox or Mabon. If you want to make a Mabon-specific recipe to welcome the new season, try this Mabon Marigold Honey Wheat Bread, Spiced Apple Butter and Rosemary Honey recipe, from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, which is inspired by Dark Mother Bread, another Pagan story.
And for something just full of fall flavors, this Cranberry Oat Banana Bread recipe from A Cozy Kitchen is so cozy and delicious, you'll be ready to hunker down for the season with a pot of tea and a warm fire as long as you have this bread.
11. Honor The Darkness
Because the days are getting shorter, now might be a good time to "honor the darkness," according to learnreligions.com.
"Without darkness, there is no light. Without night, there can be no day. Despite a basic human need to overlook the dark, there are many positive aspects to embracing the dark side, if it's just for a short time," the website notes.
Celebrate the ritual by lighting candles and turning off the lights, while reflecting on the end of the harvest and of the light.
12. Talk About Your "Blessings"
Since Mabon is sometimes considered the Pagan Thanksgiving, you can celebrate the Fall Equinox by sitting down and making a gratitude list with your family. "An attitude of gratefulness helps bring more abundance our way," learnreligions.com says. "Keep your list some place you can see it, and add to it when the mood strikes you."
13. Acorn Craft
"The acorn is a symbol of strength and power ... and it is a symbol of patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time," learnreligions.com notes. It's also a symbol of perseverance and hard work, like reaping the benefits of the harvest you worked so hard for all year.
Acorns are also just a pretty normal "fall" symbol since they tend to fall onto the ground during this season. Whichever symbol you lean toward, it will still be fun to do this Handprint Acorn Lacing Craft from Kids Craft Room to celebrate the Fall Equinox/Mabon.
14. Cornucopia Craft
The website The Goddess & The Greenman noted that the cornucopia is a symbol of Mabon and the Fall Equinox. "It is a wonderful symbol for the wealth of harvest," the website suggested, so maybe you could do a cornucopia craft to honor the symbol of the wealth of harvest? This Thanksgiving Cornucopia Craft from All Kids Network would be fun, simple, and tasty. And if you want to do one yourself for some decoration, This Cornucopia Door Sign Thanksgiving Craft Kit from Oriental Trading would be great as well.
15. Have A Bonfire
There's just something about a bonfire and fall, feeling the crisp air around you and the warmth from the fire on your face. If that's not a fun way to celebrate this time, I don't know what is.