Today, September 22, we welcome the equinox once again!
On this day twice each year, the sun rests directly over the equator, so day and night are nearly equal in length all over the globe. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Autumn Equinox marks the first day of fall. Does that bring to mind autumn leaves and cooler nights, back to school and pumpkin spice? Do you feel like you’re getting ready for something that hasn’t quite arrived? The harvest moon is the full moon closest to the equinox. This year’s harvest moon began on September 20. Look for it in the night sky over the next few days.
Many cultures have observed this time of year as a moment of transition. Around the world, ancient peoples built sacred structures that allowed them to observe the movements of the sun on both the equinox and solstice.
The most famous of these is Stonehenge. According to Greek mythology, the light wanes as the goddess Persephone returns to the realm of the dead. In Japanese Buddhist traditions, the equinox is a time to pay respects to ancestors that have passed on. In China and other parts of Southeast Asia, the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival is celebrated on the full moon closest to the equinox with familial gatherings, the giving of thanks, and lanterns to light the path to good fortune in the future. In the British Isles, ancient equinox traditions often centered around the harvest itself, when agrarian cultures would celebrate the bounty of food they had grown and take stock to prepare for the barren months of winter ahead. Many Indigenous peoples native to North America have honored the harvest with gratitude and feast days for over ten thousand years.
What does the start of autumn mean to you and your family? Read on for some suggestions of how to mark this seasonal passage for yourself. Try these activities on your own or involve your whole family!
Use this journaling prompt to contemplate your own harvest and get ready to move into a new year. What have you learned or accomplished over the spring and summer? What struggles have you faced or overcome? What are you done with? What new chapter are you ready to begin? Think about what you want for the future, and make a list of goals.
Take a household inventory. Anything you no longer needed, give away. Clear out and refresh your wardrobe, or organize your desk for work or school. Get rid of clutter, return those library books you’ve finished reading without late fees, and donate any clothes you have outgrown. Make ample space to try something new.
Part of gratitude for what you have is the gift of being able to share to help others in your community. Give money or volunteer with a local organization or a cause you care about. Donate to a Philadelphia community fridge or gather sweaters and coats for a winter clothing drive. Help a neighbor in need or a friend who could use some support. Feel the glow in your heart.
Investigate the possibilities of squash! Make a delicious apple cranberry jam with this easy recipe from the Culinary Literacy Center. Bake with your favorite seasonal ingredients, or serve a feast that honors your family’s culture. Kids can help, too! Not an enthusiastic chef? Welcome the season into your home with some DIY craft decorations. The important part is to share the enjoyment with someone you love.
What are your equinox and harvest season traditions? Let us know in the comments!