"The Autumn" by Alphonse Mucha
Mabon is the only Wiccan holiday that is not based on an ancient equivalent. That being said, the Autumnal Equinox is an official holiday in a number of countries (in China the Autumnal Equinox is the moon's birthday, for example). Mabon is the second of three harvest holidays. While Lughnasadh focused mostly on grains, Mabon focuses mostly on the harvest of fruits.
This holiday is named after the mythical Welsh hero Mabon. He is also a character in Arthurian legend and is most likely based off of an ancient deity but we have no solid proof of that. This idea of using his name for this holiday was coined by Aiden Kelly sometime around 1970. But a different deity is becoming an increasingly more popular Mabon mascot: Persephone. As you might recall, her most famous myth ends with her having to split her time between her husband (Hades/Pluto) and her mother (Demeter/Ceres). It would make sense that the equinox would be the day she has to go back to the Underworld. For many modern Pagans, Persephone is a symbol of balance between darkness and light. This makes her a very apt choice for the autumnal equinox since day and night are the same length.
Since there is no ancient Mabon holiday to gain inspiration from, how do modern Pagans celebrate?
- Mabon is sometimes referred to as "the Wiccan's Thanksgiving," and for a good reason. Mabon is all about the feast. Traditional foods include breads, berries, nuts, apples, grapes, pomegranates, goose, mutton, acorns, pork, potatoes, carrots, squash, and pumpkin.
- A Mabon feast also involves the making and/or drinking of alcohol, traditionally wine and ale. If you're not fond of alcohol, celebrate with apple cider.
- But "the Wiccan's Thanksgiving" is also called that because we use this holiday to count our blessings. This is a good time to perform rituals to honor the things that we're grateful for.
- Because this is the first day of autumn, many modern Pagans enjoy making decorations from fallen leaves, acorns, pinecones, and feathers. Altars made during this time of the year usually involve the Cornucopia, or the Horn of Plenty.
- A common practice is leaving apples on gravesites to honor the dead. Personally I feel like that sort of thing is more appropriate for Samhain, but it seems like I'm a little bit outnumbered. Visiting the graves of ancestors on the Autumnal Equinox is also a tradition in Japan.
Here are some inspiring fall names:
Mythical beings associated with the season:
Dionysus (Roman. Dion could be a good shortened form.)
Epona (Gallo-Roman. Also consider its literary variant Eponine.)
Musidora/Musidore (Greek. For all the muses.)
The Green Man (English folkloric. Perhaps Greenman would work better?)
Calix ("wine cup")
Michael (Michaelmas is a harvest holiday celebrated by some Christians in honor of St. Michael.)
Fun combo time: