The Fall equinox will happen on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, at 19:21 UTC, 3:21 PM EDT, and 12:21 PM PDT in the Northern Hemisphere.
The fall equinox, or Mabon, marks the astronomical beginning of the autumn season. When the autumnal equinox occurs in the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox happens at the exact moment in the Southern Hemisphere and marks the astronomical beginning of spring.
Are you confused yet? Not to worry, we answer a few frequently asked questions about the autumn equinox and the meaning of Mabon below. Once you learn the answers to a few questions, scroll down to find 11 fun ways to celebrate the autumn equinox! Finally, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere and celebrate the vernal equinox, have a look at fun ways to celebrate the spring equinox.
Fall Autumnal Equinox FAQ
Before we share a few simple rituals and other fun ways to celebrate autumn equinox, we thought we’d clear up any confusion you may have by answering a few frequently asked questions about the autumnal equinox.
Related: Fall Bucket List
When Does the Equinox Happen?
There are two equinoxes and solstices every year. One equinox occurs in September, while the other occurs in March. So the season that you welcome, fall or spring, depends on the side of the equator that you live on.
Related: Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas
What is the Equinox?
The equinox is the point in time that the sun crosses the celestial equator. It is an astronomical event that happens simultaneously across the globe converted to local time.
At the exact moment of the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator before continuing its journey south or north–depending on the time of year.
This definition also explains its name. The word equinox is derived from Latin, meaning “equal night.” Thus, on each equinox, the sun passes over the equator, and the length of day and night are more or less the same.
This fact also explains why the equinox is celebrated as a day of balance–day and night are approximately the same lengths on the equinox.
Related: Best Fall Art Projects
What happens on the September Equinox?
The September equinox is also known as the fall equinox or the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun crosses the celestial equator and continues its southbound declination from the equator 23.5 South.
In other words, the sun sits directly over the equator when the equinox occurs, and balance or equilibrium is reached before the sun continues its journey south.
Once the sun rises and crosses over the earth’s equator in September, it will continue south. As a result, the Northern Hemisphere will begin to experience the cooling temperatures and golden foliage characteristic of the fall.
As the sun continues to shift in the sky after the autumnal equinox, each day will get shorter, and each night will get longer until the sun reaches its southernmost declination on the night of the winter solstice–the longest night of the year.
On the March equinox, these are reversed, and the Southern Hemisphere will experience the opposite season.
Thus, the September equinox marks the astronomical beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, while the March equinox marks the beginning of the fall.
Before the fall equinox, you will begin to notice signs of autumn appearing all around. Check out our Signs of Autumn Scavenger Hunt to learn more.
When is the Autumnal Equinox?
In the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox is also known as the fall equinox and typically falls between September 21 – 23. However, on rare occasions, the fall equinox can happen just outside of those date ranges.
In 2021, the fall equinox will occur on Wednesday, September 22, at 19:21 UTC. In other words, the autumnal equinox will occur at 3:21 PM EDT and 12:21 PM PDT in the Northern Hemisphere. (source)
If you are curious about when the fall equinox will be next year–find out HERE!
What is Mabon?
Mabon is another name for the autumnal equinox. On Mabon, rituals about the balance between light and dark; and prayers of thanks for a blessed harvest are shared.
The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year’s crops. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. (source)
Mabon is the second of 3 harvest festivals celebrated by pagans. Often, traditional harvest foods are served, known as the mid-harvest festival. It is for this reason that some pagans consider Mabon “Pagan Thanksgiving.”
Early societies understood the importance of feasting with your neighbors to create a village. Without each other, they could not survive, so they dined together to celebrate, build community, and give thanks.
Learn more about pagan Mabon rituals and ceremonies HERE.
Spiritual Meaning of Mabon
On the equinox, day and night, dark and light, inner and outer, masculine and feminine, are all in balance before the night takes over–bringing darkness along with the death of winter.
All things must die before they can be reborn, and all spiritual ascent requires descent first. We are a reflection of the universe that surrounds us. What takes place outside of us also takes place within us. And, those who long for the light must first face the darkness within themselves.
On the autumnal equinox, this stage of inner preparation for enlightenment can begin to make way for the sun’s return on the winter solstice and its rebirth on the spring vernal equinox.
Use this time of universal balance to hold gratitude in your heart for the life lessons that have helped you grow and let go of everything else.
For the soul, the autumnal equinox is also a time of harvest.
Celebrate the autumn equinox, or Mabon, by harvesting your inner fruits of awareness and finding gratitude for the seeds that you have both reaped and sown. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All mistakes become beautiful lessons when we hold gratitude in our hearts.
May your inner and outer harvest be bountiful!
Autumnal Equinox Celebration Ideas
Below you will find a list of 11 ideas and rituals you can try to celebrate the autumn equinox and prepare for the waning of the light.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and are celebrating the vernal equinox, hop over to have a look at “Fun Ways to Celebrate the Spring Solstice.”
Related: Fun Autumn Activities
11 Ways to Celebrate Autumn Equinox
1. Make a Gratitude List
The autumnal equinox is a time of harvest. Make a list of everything you are thankful for as a way of reaping your inner harvest. Better yet, start a gratitude journal. Gratitude brings abundance.
If you don’t know where to begin, start with the food you have to eat and the roof over your head. It will flow naturally from there. Then, use the “I am Grateful Gratitude Journal Printable” to find inspiration. May your inner harvest be bountiful!
2. Restore Balance in the Home
Because night and day are approximately the same lengths, the equinox is a great day to create equilibrium in the home. Restore balance by doing a deep fall cleaning. Get rid of anything that you no longer need to make space for inner abundance.
Next, use the power of rhythm and routines to help you get organized and provide a framework for your day. A daily rhythm can also increase productivity and assist you with time management.
We also like to establish seasonal routines that create a connection to the world we live in and add meaning to our family life. Our need for a sense of rhythm is one of the many reasons that we like to celebrate the fall equinox. Children thrive on regular household rhythms and routines.
3. Make Fall Crafts and Create Autumn Art
Make a fall craft, or try a fall art project fun on the fall equinox, or any time this autumn, to celebrate the beautiful warm colors this magical season brings.
- Acorn Peg Dolls
- Fall Peg Doll Fairies
- Fall Nature Craft Ideas
- DIY Acorn Marble Necklaces
- Oak Apple Nature Craft
- Watercolor Fall Leaf Art
- Real Fall Leaf Nature Art Projects
- Best Fall Art Projects
- All Season Hand Print Tree – This seasonal handprint and fingerprint art tree is a great activity to do with your child to introduce the idea of seasonal changes. Feel free to do all four seasons, or, make a fall handprint art tree with golden autumn fingerprint leaves.
4. Begin Something New to Prepare for an Abundant (Inner & Outer) Harvest
The fall equinox is a great time of year to create goals or start a project. So grab our QuickStart Planning Guide, and follow the steps below to get started!
- Make a list of everything you’ve been wanting to do.
- Pick your top three choices.
- Make a plan to start one and go from there. Start with “How to Set SMART Goals” and then have a look at “How to Use the Power of Habit.”
- Continue to create a life you LOVE with our Dream Life Tool Kit!
5. Visit a Local Farm or Go to a Harvest Festival
Head to a local farm or your local farmers market for traditional Mabon harvest food items to host a family feast. Or, hose your own “Pagan Thanksgiving” to celebrate the arrival of fall.
Invite children to go on a field trip to a local farm for Mabon or anytime this autumn. Try the fun field trip ideas below–each one includes links to fall art and craft ideas and fun fall activities that the kids will LOVE!
6. Eat a Fall Harvest Meal
Create a meal from local seasonal foods to have your own Mabon Thanksgiving! Traditional autumn harvest foods include; corn, squash, zucchini, apples, pumpkins, etc.
Please spend some time this season educating your children with farm-to-table experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives. The traditional things that we do with our families create the most meaning in our lives.
Don’t worry; it’s a lot easier to make pumpkin puree than you think!
Feel free to invite your friends and family over to enjoy a fall harvest feast for Mabon or the Autumnal Equinox.
Related: Thanksgiving Traditions
7. Add Fall Decor to Your Home
One of our favorite ways to decorate for the fall is with a Fall Nature Table. (photo below)
8. Host or Attend a Bonfire
A bonfire is a great way to celebrate the autumnal equinox. Dance, sing, beat drums, play music, and celebrate the fall. Please be safe and follow city or county laws and regulations.
For more information, see 10 Tips for a Safe Bonfire with Kids.
9. Meditate and/or Practice Yoga
Practice yoga or spend time meditating on the equinox and dive deep into the spiritual meaning of Mabon.
Related: Yoga for Kids: How to Get Started
10. Read books about Autumn and the Fall
Reading books about autumn aloud with your children is a great way to celebrate the fall season. Check out a few of our favorites below:
- We Gather Together
- Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
- Leaf Man
- We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt
- Apples and Pumpkins
- Fall Mixed Up
- Hello Fall
- Why do Leaves Change Color?
- Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
- It’s Fall
- The Little Yellow Leaf
- Because of an Acorn
- Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
- In the Middle of Fall
11. Get Outside & Connect
Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas
There are many ways to celebrate the autumnal fall equinox. Create something meaningful for you and your family, and you can’t go wrong.
Have a question we didn’t answer about the fall equinox? Use the comments below, and we will do our best to get an answer for you!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!