5 Ways To Celebrate The Autumn Equinox
Fall, the season of abundance, begins on the Autumn Equinox when the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are nearly equal in length. Along with turning leaves and crisp air, the season bestows us with the gifts of the harvest — hearty produce from pumpkins and cranberries to brussel sprouts and apples. As the temperatures taper, the season ushers in a return to routine and we prepare for cozier days ahead.
Without modern cues like back-to-school and pumpkin spice everything to signal the return of fall, ancient civilizations marked the passing seasons and measured time using the sun’s position. During the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. Nights grow longer and daylight wanes after the autumn equinox, a shift that’s celebrated with the reaping of harvest crops. Inspired by the various ancient traditions practiced to honor this earth cycle, we’ve curated 5 ideas for celebrating the autumn equinox this year from your own corner of the world!
Ancient Tradition: The ancient Chinese tradition of celebrating the full moon that falls closest to the autumn equinox, also known as the harvest moon, began during the Shang dynasty and is still practiced in modern harvest festivals. The successful harvest of rice and wheat is celebrated with a moonlit gathering where friends and family share food under the night sky.
Equinox Celebration Idea: Invite your family and friends to gather and celebrate the abundance of the season with a harvest potluck. Each guest can bring a dish with their favorite harvest ingredients, like this recipe for Bacony Brussels Sprouts with Pecans & Cranberries. For more hearty campfire recipes, scoop up a copy of Feast By Firelight, authored by Firelight Camps Co-Founder Emma Frisch, and filled with outdoor cooking solutions.
Ancient Belief: “Equinox” is derived from the Latin words “aequi” and “nox” which means “equal night.” This symbolizes the balance earth finds on the equinox when the equator is closest to the sun and the length of daytime and nighttime are almost equal in length, roughly 12 hours each.
Equinox Celebration Idea: Greet the equinox with a morning yoga practice that helps you find your own balance and alignment with this nature cycle. As you flow through a series of poses, your muscles will loosen as you energize your body. Set-up a yoga mat in a sunny corner of your home or better yet, join us at camp for our 8am outdoor sunrise yoga class.
Ancient Belief: The vernal and autumnal equinoxes represent turning points in the year for agricultural communities. Planting season begins in the spring when the snow melts and soil thaws. Longer and warmer days of summer are known as growing season where crops are tended to and nurtured. As the temperatures cool and the days begin to shorten in the fall, the crops are harvested and stored for winter.
Equinox Celebration Idea: Find a cozy spot, or a “hyggekrog” as the Danish call it, to curl up and reflect on your personal harvests. As we enter the last few months of the year, take stock on what blossomed in spring and grew through summer, creating the abundance you’ll experience through fall. Observe what you nurtured and how that area of your life has evolved since the vernal equinox in March. If you’re moved to journal about this season, include your intentions for autumn so you can reflect on them at the winter solstice.
Ancient Practice: Prior to the rise of agricultural communities, our ancestors found sustenance through foraging. Acorns and walnuts were staples in the fall as they provided calorie-dense nourishment, including protein.
Equinox Celebration Idea: Immerse yourself in the gifts of the season on a fall foraging hike. Along with vibrant views of the fall foliage, you can gather berries, tree roots and nuts to enrich your fall meals. Cattail for example, which grows on our campground, has a white starchy material inside the long brown rootstocks that can be used to thicken your favorite fall soups and stews. You can even collect colorful leaves and pinecones on your hike to welcome nature into your home.
Ancient Ritual: The Pagan community celebrates the autumn equinox with a festival, called Mabon, to honor the changing seasons. Mabon rituals focus on the balance of light and dark , their inextricable link, and the coming darkness of winter. Fire is a key element for Mabon ceremonies as it represents the transition from autumn, with flame-colored foliage, to the dark nights that grow longer each day until the winter solstice.
Equinox Celebration Idea: Mark the start of the season with an equinox campfire. Invite your nearest and dearest to create a gratitude circle around the campfire and each share what gift of the season they’re most grateful for that has helped them find their own personal equilibrium.