TWH – This year, the autumnal equinox falls on Sept. 22 at 9:54 PM ET in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the moment that officially signals the start of fall. At this time, there will be an equal amount of light and dark, after which the nights are longer as than days as we head toward winter.
Outside of religious life, this season is well celebrated. It is punctuated by harvest celebrations, craft and arts festivals, outdoors sports, pumpkin picking, scarecrow contests, corn mazes, and the aromas of spice and apple cider.
From ancient to modern cultures, the harvest period was a time of both work and celebration. Many of these celebrations are marked by a thanksgiving, whether religious or secular in nature. Gratitude is given to deities, ancestors, family, friends, community, self, and nature.It is also when the UN celebrates International Day of Peace (Sept. 21). Famed French author Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
In some modern Pagan traditions, the autumnal equinox is the second of three harvest festivals, with the first being Lughnasadh and the third being Samhain.
The Pagan holiday, or Sabbat in some traditions, is known by a variety of names. For Wiccans and Witches, it is often called “Harvest Home” or “Mabon.” In Druidic and Celtic-oriented Pagan groups, it can be called “Mid-Harvest,” “Foghar,” or “Alban Elfed.” In modern Asatru, it is sometimes called “Winter Finding.”
The Greek term for it is “Phthinopohriní Isimæría.” In Old English it was called “efnniht.”
Then, there are those who just simply prefer to use “autumn equinox” or “fall.”
“The season of autumn whispers to me in the mornings, reminding me that the Wheel of the Year is turning, ” writes Novia Scotia-based blogger Cyndi Brannen.
At the same time, our friends and family living in the Southern Hemisphere begin the journey toward summer. Sept. 22 will mark their vernal equinox and the beginning of spring. For those people, the days will begin to lengthen and become warmer as light triumphs over dark, and the Earth reawakens from its winter slumber.
Happy harvest to all of those celebrating, and a very merry spring to our friends in the south.