Mabon (Autumn Equinox) Folklore and Traditions from learnreligions.com
Interested in learning about some of the traditions behind the celebrations of the autumn equinox? Find out why Mabon is important, learn about the legend of Persephone and Demeter, the symbolism of stags, acorns and oaks, and explore the magic of apples and more!
Wondering where the word “Mabon” came from? Was it a Celtic god? A Welsh hero? Is it found in ancient writings? Let’s look at some of the history behind the word.
Mabon falls around September 21 in the northern hemisphere, and around March 21 below the equator. This is the autumn equinox, it’s a time to celebrate the season of the second harvest. It’s a time of balance, of equal hours of light and dark, and a reminder that the cold weather isn’t far away at all. If you’ve got kids at home, try celebrating Mabon with some of these family-friendly and kid-appropriate ideas.
Autumn Equinox Around the World
At Mabon, the time of the autumn equinox, there are equal hours of light and dark. It is a time of balance, and while summer is ending, the winter is approaching. This is a season in which farmers are harvesting their fall crops, gardens are beginning to die, and the earth gets a bit cooler each day. Let’s look at some of the ways that this second harvest holiday has been honored around the world for centuries. Read more about the Autumn Equinox Around the World.
Gods of the Vine
Grapes are everywhere in the fall, so it’s no surprise that the Mabon season is a popular time to celebrate wine-making, and deities connected to the growth of the vine. Whether you see him as Bacchus, Dionysus, the Green Man, or some other vegetative god, the god of the vine is a key archetype in harvest celebrations. Learn more about the Gods of the Vine.
Pagans and Renaissance Festivals
Renaissance Faires and Festivals aren’t specifically Pagan, but there are a few reasons why you’ll see a lot of us there. Let’s look at how this counterculture institution of the sixties and seventies turned into a place where you can almost always find other Pagans.
The Celebration of Michaelmas
In the British Isles, Michaelmas is celebrated on September 29. As the Feast of St. Michael within the Catholic church, this date is often associated with the harvest because of its proximity to the autumn equinox. Although it’s not a Pagan holiday in the true sense, Michaelmas celebrations often included older aspects of Pagan harvest customs, such as the weaving of corn dolls from the last sheaves of grain. Read more about the Michaelmas Celebration.
Around the middle of September, the nut season starts. Hazelnuts ripen in the hedges, and they have long been connected to folklore and legends. Hazel is associated to the Celtic tree month of Coll, from August 5 to September 1, and the very word Coll means “the life force inside you.” Hazelnuts are connected to wisdom and protection, and are often found near sacred wells and magical springs.
The acorn is a symbol of strength and power. In the fall, these tiny yet hardy little nuggets drop from the oak trees to land on the ground. Because the acorn only appears on a fully mature oak, it is often considered a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time. It represents perseverance and hard work. In many cultures the oak is sacred. Read more about Acorn & Oak Folklore.
Pomona, the Apple Goddess
Pomona was a Roman goddess who was the keeper of orchards and fruit trees. Unlike many other agricultural deities, Pomona is not associated with the harvest itself, but with the flourishing of fruit trees. She is usually portrayed bearing a cornucopia or a tray of blossoming fruit. Learn more about Pomona, the Goddess of Apples.
Although they haven’t always looked the way they do now, scarecrows have been around a long time and have been used in a number of different cultures. From the farms of ancient Greece to the rice fields of Japan, scarecrows are often used for a variety of purposes. Learn more about Scarecrow Magic & Legends.
Can You Balance an Egg on the Equinox?
There’s a very popular story that circulates on the Internet twice every year at the spring and fall equinoxes, and it’s about eggs. According to legend, if you try to stand an egg on its end on the vernal or autumnal equinox, you’ll be successful, because of the polarity and balance of the earth. Let’s explore the legend of Egg Balancing on the Equinox.
Wigington, Patti. “Mabon (Autumn Equinox) Folklore and Traditions.” Learn Religions, Sep. 5, 2021, learnreligions.com/mabon-folklore-traditions-4590167.