In order to fully understand the reason why pagans celebrate the equinox, you must first understand the astronomical relevance of the equinox. So, let’s dive in. An equinox is basically the moment when the plane of the Earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun’s disk. This event only happens twice a year, around March 20th and September 23rd. All in all, on the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are approximately equal duration all over the planet – about 12 hours each. Even though they aren’t exactly equal, it appears that way due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction. During the equinox is the only time when the solar terminator is perpendicular to the equator – resulting in the northern and southern hemispheres being equally illuminated.
The equinoxes usually signify the beginning of spring and autumn. The first equinox, that takes place in March, is referred to by the Pagans as Ostara and represents a highly anticipated change within agriculture.
During the spring equinox, there are a number of ways Pagans celebrate:
Colors: Pagans like to incorporate yellows, pale purples and green into their décor. These are the colors of spring and are believed to bring forth positive energy.
Plants: Since the spring equinox represents new growth and life, the addition of potted plants and flowers are a big deal. Some of the most popular spring flowers are crocuses, daffodils and lilies. Terrariums are another big celebratory item. You’ll notice that they’re decorated with animal figurines such as lambs, rabbits and calves.
Chocolate Rabbits and Other Delicious Goodies: Giving chocolate rabbits to the little ones is a big celebratory item that is exchanged. It’s a way to incorporate children into the meditation rituals and rebirth celebrations of welcoming the change of seasons. Egg baskets, filled with candy, is another way the traditional chocolate rabbit has become more over the years – and as traditions are modernized.
Spring Cleaning: Yes, you have the Pagans to thank for this ritualistic endeavor that we all dread. Getting rid of clutter and cleaning is a way many Pagan households refresh their routines. Whether it’s donating items or deep cleaning rooms within the house, spring cleaning is a big tradition.
Taking on New Projects: Pagans like to get their DIY on during this particular equinox because they believe the season brings forth a renewed energy, that can be used for creating new developments. The size doesn’t matter, to Pagans. The project can be as ambitious as building a new fence or as small as adding bins to a shelf.
The autumn equinox represents the height of the harvest season which began with Lughnassadh and ends with Samhain. Oftentimes, the autumn equinox is referred to as the Pagan Thanksgiving. Even though there are a number of celebrations associated with the harvest season, some of the most popular ones are: Second Harvest, Alban Elfed Winter Nights, Harvest Home, Feast of the Ingathering, Mean Fomhair and Mabon.
As you can imagine, the autumn equinox is celebrated with an array of feasts that include seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh baked treats. Pagans look forward to the autumn celebrations because in essence it is their last chance to get together and celebrate outdoors before the colder temperatures take over. Bonfires and BBQs are very popular ways Pagans make the most out of their get togethers. Ultimately, the theme of the day, for Pagans, is to share blessings and gratitude. Moreover, gratitude for the Gods of the Harvest are truly appreciated.
While it may appear somewhat trivial to the outsider, Pagans believe in magical symbols that provide harvest, balance, transformation or a change in attitude or a paradigm shift. Some of these items include magical charms from the garden such as grapevine wreaths, corncob dolls, apple dolls, magical ink that’s made form nuts and berries.
Other traditions that Pagans celebrate during the autumn equinox are:
Offerings: Pagans like to provide offerings to the gods. Ultimately, this is their way of assuring that the harvest will be plentiful and abundant. The offerings are extremely energy centric. Chants are also incorporated during the offerings. One popular chat, that’s also associated with the Thanksgiving celebration is:
We give thanks for the harvest.
We give thanks for abundance.
We give thanks for the blessings in our lives through the year.
Chanting is one way Pagans become more spiritually invested in the autumn equinox.
Preparing for the Cold: This can be weatherizing a garden, getting warm clothes out of storage, putting out mugs accompanied with warm drinks to sip on, cutting firewood for the fireplace and stocking up on seasonal foods.
Letting Go: As the spring equinox signifies a renewed self and view on the day-to-day, the autumn equinox represents the same. Pagans discard objects and elements, in their life, that they believe are holding them back. Some Pagans write these items down on paper and literally burn them. This is a very popular ritual and Pagan friends will get together and participate in a group bonfire – they take turns burning their papers and rid their mind, body and soul of the elements keeping them down.
Colors that Pagans associate with the autumn equinox are orange, dark red, yellow, indigo and brown. Ultimately, these colors are the shades you’ll see during the festival of Thanksgiving.
All in all, Pagans celebrate the equinox because they believe in constantly reconstructing themselves to be better. Whether it is the spring or autumn equinox, Pagans can ultimately celebrate life with their customary celebrations. While they’re also honoring their gods and goddesses, Pagans are associating the world’s change with their own. It is clear that many of the traditions associated with the equinoxes are becoming more modernized and are not as god and goddesses centric as they once were. It’s evident that Pagans celebrate the equinox because it is symbolic for their culture and individual being.