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Harvest festival | A time to gather, savour and share

As the last of the late-summer sunshine fades, its glorious gold drenches the leaves in sunset shades. The air cools and darkness creeps in earlier each evening. It is now that harvest arrives. The last bounties of the warmer months are collected, and there’s a feeling of abundance and plenty, before the inevitable hardships of winter set in. Hedgerows bristle with glistening berries that are plucked and baked in warm pies and crumbles. A glut of apples are made into juices, ciders, pastries and wines. It’s a time for friends, feasts and fires; to give thanks to nature. Often we take for granted that food magically appears on our table but harvest reminds us to appreciate, savour and share.

The history of harvest

Harvest has been celebrated for centuries. The Romans had their Ludi Cereales, or feasts in honour of Ceres. The Druids celebrated their harvest on November 1. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon haerfest meaning “autumn”. Around the world, many cultures celebrate some kind of harvest festival. There’s Oktoberfest in Germany, Mid-Autumn Festival in China and Mehregan in Iran. American Thanksgiving was originally on October 3, which is much closer to the harvest season.

The Pagan festival of Mabon

Mabon aligns with traditional European harvest festivals, which historically celebrate a successful cereal harvest and the bolstering of food stores for winter. In Celtic folklore, the name is thought to come from the Welsh god Mabon, who was the son of the Earth Mother Goddess. In British folklore, Mabon is associated with Herne the Hunter and the start of deer-hunting season.

Mabon is celebrated on the autumn equinox. Pagans use Mabon to reflect, give thanks to Mother Earth and appreciate the blessings in their lives. Many have huge feasts with their family and friends using seasonal foods such as apples, grapes and root vegetables. If you want to host your own harvest celebration, the autumn equinox would be a good day to do so!

Ways you can celebrate at home

Create an altar

One Mabon tradition is to create an altar. You can do this on your kitchen table, windowsill, fireplace – wherever! Add harvest fruits and vegetables, like apples, pine cones, squash and root vegetables. Create a welcoming autumnal colour scheme by opting for golds, oranges, reds and bronzes. Use scented candles to make it smell delicious too.

Sort and declutter

Mabon is a great time to sort out your home ready for the colder months. Complete any unfinished projects and clear out any clutter so that your home feels like a calm and cosy haven ready for winter hibernation.

Gather your friends for a harvest feast

Host a feast and get everyone to bring their favourite food or drink to share. Focus on seasonal root vegetables and make sure there’s a fire if you can! Lighting candles is a symbolic part of harvest celebrations and they’re great for creating an atmosphere and sense of occasion.

Practice gratitude

Harvest is all about gratitude, so why not start a gratitude journaling practice during this time? Writing down things you’re grateful for each day has been proven to have a positive impact on mental health. You could also go around the table during your feast and invite your friends and family to share what they’re grateful for. It’s a lovely way to recognise everyone’s blessings and achievements and mark the passing of another seasonal cycle.

Share beyond your table

Harvest is the perfect time to think of others who have less than us. Pick a cause you feel strongly about, and give it some of your time, energy or money. You could even think about how you could continue to support this charity/charities throughout the year.

We hope you have a fantastic harvest celebration.

If you enjoyed this post, we’d recommend reading ‘A ritual of light’, which is all about channeling the sacred power of light in your home.

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