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Mabon – Celtic celebration of autumn equinox

23rd September Autumn Equinox, Mea’n Fo’mhair

Related to Michaelmas

The autumnal equinox is the time when the day and night are of equal length. This was a solar festival of great importance to the ancient Irish, who used the sky as both clock and calendar. Several Neolithic (Stone Age) temples were built devoted to the equinox as a method of time keeping.

Mabon, ancient Celtic festival. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Up until the autumn equinox the hours of daylight outnumbered those of darkness. This was the turning point of that and as such a time to get prepared for the colder months to follow.

Traditionally, this would have been the second harvest festival, celebrated with a feast and offerings to give thanks for the fruits of the earth and also acknowledge the harsh times ahead.

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The Celts did not seem to have a specific name for this time of year. It has become widely known as Mabon but, really, this is a very recent neo-pagan name take from the Welsh mythological character Mabon ap Modron.

The Christian equivalent of the autumnal equinox is Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael the Archangel who defeated Lucifer and is seen as the protector against the dark of night.

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