Mabon: Harvest of Thanksgiving

Stock Photo: Decorative GourdThe time of the Autumnal Equinox is at hand. Today the day and night will be of equal length. We celebrate the second harvest on this day, placing fall fruits  and wine on the altar, and giving thanks for the yield of the season.

Mabon is a name given to this holiday about forty years or so ago. It originates from a prominent hunter figure in Welsh mythology. The fact that the name given this day is relatively new is possibly the only new thing about this holiday. For centuries in the history of many societies the world over, there has been an equinox celebration with festivals and feasts. 

This is a holiday of thanksgiving. We are grateful for the food the earth has provided, and preparing for the coming months of winter. America’s Thanksgiving was originally held on the third of October, much closer to the equinox than it is now. The holiday’s date was moved (twice) in the recent past and is, as you probably know, now held on the second-to-last Thursday in November.

Around the world, this harvest is celebrated in many different cultures. China celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mooncakes. In the British isles, many celebrate Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael. And who could forget Oktoberfest, the ever-popular German festival of the harvest.

In the mythology of the holiday, we see the god waning quickly, turning toward his death at Samhain. The goddess ages as well, and yet holds the seed of the god growing in her belly to be reborn once again at Yule. 

One of the most popular myths to explain the cause of this season is the Greek story of Demeter and Persephone. 

Demeter was the goddess of the grain and harvest in Ancient Greece, and her daughter, Persephone (a goddess of vegetation), had won the heart of Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades kidnapped Persephone to the underworld, and Demeter’s sadness caused the crops to wither and die. She searched the world over, but when she finally found Persephone, it turned out that her daughter had already eaten six pomegranate seeds. Having eaten those seeds, she was now bound to the underworld for six months of each year. And so, as the seasons turn, during the months that Persephone is gone, Demeter mourns her loss, and this is why we have the winter season.

And so we have reached the last of the eight holidays on the Wheel of the Year (as I begin the Wheel at Samhain). Keep reading in the coming year for my own interpretations of these holidays, and my ways of celebrating here at home, and with my family. 

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