Autumn Equinox, Mea’n Fo’mhair, Mabon
Mabon (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon or MAH-bawn) is also called Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, 2nd Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Cornucopia, or Autumn Equinox this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months. The name may derive from Mabon ap Modron. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas and followed by Samhain.
Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or ‘holy month’.
The name Mabon has only been applied to the neopagan festival of the autumn equinox very recently; the term was invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious studies project. Previously, in Gardnerian Wicca the festival was simply known as the ‘Autumnal Equinox’, and many neopagans still refer to it as such, or use alternative titles such as the neo-Druidical Aban Efed, a term invented by Iolo Morgannwg. The use of the name Mabon is much more prevalent in America than Britain.
In the ancient cycle of the year, this was actually the second harvest; the first harvest festival occurs on August 1st and is known as Lammas. As methods of agriculture became more uniform and sophisticated, the autumn harvest was moved back until the last possible growing time was completed to maximize its size. As such, the Autumnal Equinox became synonymous with not only the completion of the harvest, but also the end of summer.
This final gathering of the crops and the beginning of preparations for the long winter that lay ahead marked a time of thanksgiving for all that Nature had given her children and for the completion of another turn of the Great Wheel. It was a time for feasting, celebrating the good fortune of the previous year and preparing for the long months of winter that were ahead.