The autumn equinox falls on September 22 or 23, marking the Pagan holiday of Mabon. It is also known as Alban Elfed, Second Harvest, or Harvest Home. This is the second of the three harvest festivals. Now the ripe grain is being reaped from the fields. Vegetable season is ending and the fall fruits, such as apples, are ready to pick. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology.
The autumn equinox marks the time when the hours of day and night are equal. This is an important time in traditions that celebrate the year based on the four quarters of the sun (equinoxes and solstices). For Pagans who celebrate eight sabbats, the quarter days are still significant. This is also the time of year when trees turn colors and the world begins to go dormant in preparation for winter.
Decorate your altar with seasonal colors of red, orange, yellow, gold, and brown. Add symbols of the sun and moon, or a sun wheel. Consider holding your ritual at night, so that you can admire the autumn constellations coming into view. Then light a bonfire and enjoy its heat in the cooling weather.
Now is the time when the ripe grains are brought in from the fields: dent corn, wheat, soybeans, and all the rest. These dry crops are stored whole or ground into meal and flour to feed people and livestock through the cold season when nothing grows. Also, some must be saved as seed stock for the next year. (This overlaps somewhat with Lammas, and people will celebrate grain according to local preferences.)
Mabon is associated with grapes and vineyards, and especially with the making and drinking of wine. Many deities relate to wine including Bacchus, Dionysus, Osiris, Geshtinanna, and even Jesus. Intoxication has long been linked with a sort of divine madness. Then too, the making of wine is a mysterious process, once requiring secret rituals and propitiations to ensure its success.
As a harvest festival, Mabon is tightly linked to abundance and prosperity. Farmers are reaping grain and picking the bountiful fall fruits. This generous outpouring of food will sustain people and livestock through the cold winter. Prayers and meditations for this holiday often feature abundance. Our lives thus manifest the cycle of the seasons.
Here are more ideas for dishes you can make this Mabon, either by yourself or with family and friends. If you have a dish you always prepare this time of year, please share it with us!
- Apple Cider—a traditional drink of fall that can be used in ritual as well as out. You can buy it from the local farmer’s market or you can make your own.
- Apple Pie—Do I need to say more?
- Apple Sauce—This is one of those things that a lot of people grew up making at home with mom and grandma. It’s a comfort food as well as a Mabon one.
- Autumn Spice Granola—I stumbled upon this recipe and it has me contemplating making granola for the first time!
- Butternut Squash Cake Roll—here’s one to combine squash with some sugar. Okay, maybe a lot of sugar!
- Caramel Apples—making caramel apples is an easy, kid-friendly treat to make. Most stores will have pre-packaged caramel you can melt onto an apple in the microwave, or you can make your own very simply with some milk and caramel candies.
- Corn and Squash Soup—Soup anyone?
- Cranberry Sauce—this is something I associate with my family’s Christmas celebration more than anything else, but it still falls under this harvest category. You can buy the canned version from the store, or here’s a popular recipe to make your own.
- Crispy Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes—Chicken and rosemary are both traditional foods for celebrating Mabon, so putting them together is a no-brainer.
- Fried Zucchini/Squash—yummy, but not necessarily good for you. Cut your zucchini into round slices, coat each in flour and fry in a skillet with some vegetable oil until they’re crispy and brown. We alternate between cooking the heck out of them and leaving the centers still soft.
- Fruit Salad—easy to make, just combine whatever fruits you have on hand and eat together, or sprinkle with sugar to draw out those natural juices for a fruit salad in syrup.
- Honey Maple Cookies—what’s a celebration without some sweet?
- Pumpkin Cheesecake—Pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin!
- Pumpkin Zucchini Bread—I’ve already touted my love of this recipe, but here it is again!
Obviously a feast like this is not meant for one person. Consider having a fall party based around eating, drinking, reflecting on blessings and the change of the season.