In 2019, the fall equinox will occur at 7:50 UTC on September 23. Because of time differences across the globe, this means that the autumnal equinox will actually happen the day before, on September 22, for those of us in North America. In other words, the fall equinox (Mabon) will occur on Sunday, September 22, 2019, at 3:50 AM EDT, or 6:50 AM 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 Northen Hemisphere, the vernal equinox happens at the same exact moment in the Southern Hemisphere and marks the astronomical beginning of spring.
Are you confused yet? Don’t worry… we answer all your questions about the autumn equinox and the meaning of Mabon below.
Once all of your questions are answered, scroll down to find 11 fun ways to celebrate autumn equinox!
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere and are celebrating the vernal equinox have a look at fun ways to celebrate the spring equinox.
Related: Fall Bucket List
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.
When Does the Equinox Happen?
There are two equinoxes and solstices every year. One equinox occurs in September, while the other occurs in March. 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 at the exact same moment across the world but is converted to local time.
On 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.” On each equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are said to more or less the same on the day that the equinox happens.
This 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. It is when the sun crosses the celestial equator and continues its southbound declination from the equator at 23.5 South.
In other words, the sun sits directly over the equator at the moment that the equinox occurs, and balance or equilibrium is reached before the sun continues its journey south.
Once the sun rises and crosses over earth’s equator in the month of September, it will continue south, and the Northern Hemisphere will begin to experience the cooling temperatures and golden foliage characteristic of the fall.
This means that after the autumnal equinox, each day will get shorter, and, each night will get longer until the sun reaches it’s 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 in the Southern Hemisphere.
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. On rare occasions, the fall equinox can happen just outside of those date ranges.
In 2019, the autumnal equinox will happen on September 23, 2019, at 3:50 AM EDT (6:50 AM PDT), 0750 UTC 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. Rituals about the balance between light and dark, and giving thanks for a blessed harvest are often performed on Mabon.
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, where traditional harvest foods were 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 feasted together to celebrate, to create community, and to 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.
This means that those who long for the light must first face the darkness within themselves.
It is on the autumnal equinox, that this stage of inner preparation for enlightenment can begin. In order to make way for the return of the sun on the winter solstice, and it’s rebirth on the spring vernal equinox.
This is why it is so important to 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 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.
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 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. 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 fall deep 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. This 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 Fall 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 that 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.
- 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”.
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 your own feast or “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.
Spend some time this season educating your children with farm to table experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s the traditional things that we do with our families that 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. Have 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
Get outside and connect with what matters on the equinox. For more information about the Get Outside & Connect Series click on the link. You may also like this awesome collection of outside learning activities for kids.
Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas
There are many ways to celebrate the fall autumnal 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!
If You liked Fall Equinox Celebration Ideas, You May Also Like
- Fall Tree Collage
- 10 Ways to Have Fun Outside with Fall Leaves
- Fall Leaves Watercolor Art
- Signs of Autumn Scavenger Hunt for Kids
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Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…