The autumnal equinox and the start of fall are two of the most important times of year in Paganism, and many people choose to observe them through rituals at home or community events like festivals and gatherings. Mabon, one of the eight sabbats on the Wheel of the Year, generally falls on or around September 21st. Celebrating this time of year can be especially important for Pagans with children or teens, because it gives them a chance to share their beliefs with those who will likely spend more of their lives outside Paganism than inside it.
If you’re having a hard time explaining Mabon to your kids, don’t fret! This post includes a helpful history lesson on Mabon that might be what you need to give them some context. After reading about how Mabon is traditionally celebrated and why it was originally called The Day of Ripe Fruit, your kids will understand why we take the day off. We hope this is helpful, as you plan your own family celebration today!
When is Mabon?
Many Pagans celebrate Mabon on the Autumnal Equinox, which is typically September 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and March 21st in the Southern Hemisphere. These dates can vary by a day or two from year to year due to leap years.
Pagans celebrate Mabon because it’s a time to take stock of what has been accomplished so far, enjoy a cornucopia of food, and look forward to harvest time. This holiday has some similarities with Thanksgiving. You are giving thanks to those who have helped get things done this season.
Many believe this is one of the best times of year to give back to your community and show gratitude by volunteering your time or money.
Mabon is an excellent time to show your children that they are cared for and loved. Children can start a family scrapbook or other type of history book where they can write down their activities, thoughts, and accomplishments from each season. Another fun project would be making gifts for each member of your family using crafts you have created. For example, give everyone in your family a painted rock to put in their garden so that when it comes time to harvest their crops, they will remember all of your hard work!
Why Is This Celebration Sacred?
Pagan religions believe that at Mabon, the god of light abdicates his throne and leaves earth as winter begins. Meanwhile, darkness is gaining power as summer moves on. Pagans pay homage to both light and dark by sharing a harvest feast in recognition of their bounty. It’s also seen as an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments. For example, if you planted seeds in spring, they’ll have grown into food you can now eat. If you harvested vegetables in fall, this might be your last chance to enjoy them before they spoil! Share these foods with friends and family who don’t grow their own produce. Even if it’s not harvest time where you live, there are plenty of opportunities to find seasonal produce at grocery stores or farmer’s markets. You may even want to grow something yourself, just so you can share it with someone who enjoys it more than you (like pumpkin pie). Nowadays, most people think of Mabon as an opportunity to get together with friends and celebrate all the hard work we’ve done. With kids especially, take some time to give them ideas about what activities they can try during this celebration – maybe things like drawing pictures about what they’re thankful for or writing letters to people in other countries. Let them know how much you appreciate their presence, and help preserve memories from this special day.
Getting Ready for the Holiday
Most of us know it’s Mabon time, but we’re not all sure what that means. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’re going to go over a few things about Mabon and why it’s such a fun time of year! To kick things off, let’s talk about Mabon decorations. There are tons of wonderful ideas on Pinterest that can inspire you with everything from tablecloth and plates to centerpieces or art pieces! For instance, if you have children who are old enough and want some help picking out their own dishware, why not use these fall-themed dishes? Your kids will love choosing which one they want as they fill up their plate with all sorts of goodies! It’ll be an adorable reminder of your family’s celebration every time they set the table. Next, when you think about Mabon activities, don’t forget to include apple bobbing. Just like at Samhain with pumpkin carving, this is another great way to get everyone involved in the festivities! If you happen to find some apples at a farm stand or roadside stand during apple season – or even canned apples, those work too. Remember to be creative with your games, so there are prizes for winners and losers alike. Lastly, make sure everyone knows how long until sundown, so they can do everything in advance without rushing at the last minute. And that concludes our introduction to Mabon celebrations!
What Can You Do as a Family on Mabon?
As you may already know, Mabon is all about balance and celebration of the harvest season. On this day, we honor not only those who have passed on in our lives, but also share rituals that help preserve their memories. Of course, if you’re out of town or just don’t want to travel somewhere rural for a weekend camping trip or spend hours preparing a complicated meal by yourself (especially if you’re in it with little ones!), there are other ways to celebrate Mabon that your family will enjoy. Here are some ideas!
- Have an outdoor picnic-themed dinner where each person shares something they loved about their time spent with the person being honored.
- Bring nature into your home by setting up a ritual space and decorating it with whatever colors represent life and growth. You can even use natural objects like pinecones, leaves, rocks, shells, feathers, etc. to create beautiful designs around the space. Play music that reminds you of happy times with the person, as well as songs about honoring life. Gather flowers together to make floral wreaths, and hang them around the space while lighting candles in memory of them.
- Spend some time journaling together as individuals or as a group. Let the kids doodle and paint, write letters to their lost loved one, tell stories about them, draw pictures of things they remember doing together–whatever feels right. Share what you’ve written or drawn afterwards, so everyone has a chance to reflect on what they wrote down.
- Pick apples from your backyard tree! Decorate with ribbons or string popcorn garlands and see how many people you can get to eat an apple as part of the tradition. Use these instructions for making apple pie filling from scratch. There’s nothing better than homemade pie with fresh apples picked right off the tree! If you don’t already have a back yard apple tree, it is also a great time to plant one.
Celebrating at Home
Foods traditionally served at this celebration include roast turkey, pumpkin pie and apples. However, you can use whatever foods are available in your area or region. Be sure to have plenty of food options, so no one feels left out. To celebrate Mabon, parents can organize a festive fall meal with seasonal foods like pumpkin pie or apple crisp. Adults might encourage children to decorate pumpkins or make paper leaves, while telling stories about the cycle of life and death. Share recipes with family members, so everyone can contribute to the meal. And make sure to toast with plenty of apple cider—the drink of choice for this holiday! One way to keep kids busy during this time is by making leaf ornaments for their trees.
You could also read Fall-themed books aloud before bedtime, and let them choose their favorite story from the day’s reading list. If they’re old enough, they might even want to write their own tale based on what they learned that day. Encourage creativity through arts and crafts projects, such as creating personalized cards or envelopes using construction paper and stickers. Or take a trip to the pumpkin patch together, where there’s an opportunity for them to pick out the perfect jack-o’-lantern for their front porch.
Tips from Other Families
- Use one branch of leaves to represent each member of your family by making leaf prints on white paper, arranging them on a mat or cutting and pasting them onto construction paper.
- Play Mystery Leaves. Gather a variety of different leaves (with their individual characteristics) and place in a jar. One at a time, have the children take turns selecting a leaf from the jar, taking time to feel its texture and investigate its shape.
- Have a leaf collection. Collect various leaves, then label and display them as your children grow and learn. As they become better able to identify different kinds of leaves, their collection can change or evolve. Younger children may prefer to categorize leaves into groups based on where they live; older kids might want to sort them into shapes or sizes. An annual Mabon event could be adding new leaves to the collection with this theme in mind.
- Dress up as fairies, witches, and woodland creatures. Be sure to include a magic wand!
- Keep an eye out for falling acorns! Write down which tree they came from so you can thank the tree and return it after picking it up.
- Get outside and enjoy the colors of the changing leaves while playing games like Leaf Hop or Hide-and-Seek.
- Try baking recipes that use apples, pumpkins, potatoes, and other seasonal ingredients. Baking bread is also a great way to get everyone involved in food preparation!