From seasonal feasts to foraging walks and candle-lit evenings, here are some magical ways to celebrate the autumn equinox.
It’s a season to reap the harvest, celebrate its bounty and stock up for the long winter ahead.
The autumn equinox marks the end of summer and the start of autumn. It’s a time of sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes and changing leaves.
It’s also a season to celebrate, get in tune with nature, reconnect to old traditions and bring in the start of a more introspective season.
The autumn equinox is a time of rest after the labors of the harvest. It’s also a time to complete projects and let go of what’s unwanted so that winter can be spent in peace.
When is the 2022 Autumn Equinox?
This year, the equinox falls on Friday, September 23, in the Northern hemisphere. It’s the day when the sun sits directly above the equator – and the halfway point between the summer and winter solstice.
Equinox comes from the Latin for “equal” and “night” (or nox), meaning that the length of daylight and night are equal on this date.
Autumn equinox rituals and traditions
The autumn equinox is celebrated by many different cultures around the world.
It’s traditionally celebrated as Mabon in the Anglo-Celtic tradition, where it includes a seasonal feast and alter making.
In Japan, Buddhists honor their ancestors during a six-day holiday of Higan. In Judaism there’s Succoth, which falls on the autumn equinox and includes a seasonal feast. China and Vietnam celebrate the Moon Festival with mooncakes.
Ways to celebrate the autumn equinox
Whether the autumn equinox is your annual tradition – or whether it’s your first time – here are some magical ways to celebrate.
1. Do some gratitude journaling
The autumn equinox is all about giving thanks for a bountiful harvest after the work of reaping and sowing.
Traditionally it’s a celebration of an abundant crop. But it’s also about giving thanks for everything else in life.
And it’s the perfect time to step back and reflect as you transition from the heydays of summer to longer and colder evenings.
Why start a gratitude journal
From fighting depression to improving relationships and boosting your self-confidence, there are numerous benefits to writing down everything you’re thankful for.
Gratitude journaling is proven in studies to make you a happier and more productive person. It also lowers your stress and calms you at night.
A gratitude journal reminds you to stop constantly striving for more and just appreciate the present.
But don’t rush through it. Write in detail about what you’re thankful for and let yourself feel those emotions and experience the sensations. Diving deep into a few things you’re grateful for is more beneficial than writing down a long list.
And don’t make your gratitude journal another thing to tick off your to-do list. Savour the experience and take your time.
Studies show that writing a gratitude journal once or twice a week makes a bigger impact than hurried everyday journaling.
Use these gratefulness prompts to start:
write about a person in your life that has changed you for the better.
describe in detail something good that happened to you yesterday – it could be a major life event or as simple as watching a good film.
describe in detail something you’re grateful for that’s near you right now – whether it’s the cushion you’re sitting on or a favorite piece of jewelry you’re wearing.
As the days get shorter, a candle-lit evening is a great reminder of the natural passage of time – and the balance between light and dark.
Before electricity, phone and TV screens lit up the evenings, there were slower and darker nights spent over candlelight. Evenings when darkness was embraced and accepted as part of life.
Light some scented candles and turn off all your screens to remind yourself that darkness is natural. It’s part of the changing seasons and something to be enjoyed.
A quiet evening over candle light – or over a bonfire or fireplace – gently calms you after a long day and gets you ready for a deeper sleep.
It attunes you to larger forces and the rhythms of nature.
Here are some things to enjoy on a candlelit evening:
do a guided meditation or sit in quiet reflection
have a gentle, long yoga session
eat a slow meal and savor every bite
listen to some of your favorite music or a relaxing playlist
3. Go foraging and leaf picking
Get more in tune with nature during this gorgeous season of golden sunsets and yellow leaves.
Slow down and notice the changes: the chill, brisk air, the longer evenings, the changing leaves and acorns on the ground.
Whether you live near a forest – or just a local park – take an afternoon to wander and collect any interesting tidbits. These can include leaves and stones, or fruit and wildflowers.
If you’re in a city where foraging is difficult, visit a local nursery or a plant shop and stock up on some herbs, pumpkins or yellow and orange-leafed plants to bring some nature into your home.
Or simply take a longer walk around your neighbourhood and slow down to notice the details. Try to identify the plants and trees you see – and do some research into what grows in your region.
Take a moment to appreciate your natural landscape and the nature that’s often passed by in your daily routine.
Use the pieces you’ve gathered for your altar or home decor. You can also press any leaves you find – or try drawing them in a nature journal.
4. Visit a harvest festival or farmer’s market
Load up on seasonal fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s market or harvest festival.
Eating seasonally helps you appreciate the changing seasons and celebrate all the gifts that nature provides.
It also gets you in touch with your local community and the local farmers who’ve just harvested their crops.
Use your haul of fruits and veggies to prepare seasonal salads and stews – or to decorate your home.
Here’s what to shop for – and what’s in season:
5. Bake an apple pie
The apple is a symbol of the harvest – and signifies renewal and wholeness.
Bake an apple pie to celebrate this traditional symbol of the autumn equinox – and to warm up your home with the fragrant scent of spices.
Apples are traditionally picked during harvest time and used in equinox feasts. Baking with apples puts you back in touch with these old seasonal traditions.
Apples are symbols of abundance in many folklore traditions and a hearty apple pie is a perfect desert for your autumn feast.
And if apple pie isn’t your thing, try whipping up a hearty pumpkin pie. If you don’t really enjoy cooking, get a pie from the bakery. The autumn equinox should be enjoyable – and not yet another obligation.
6. Declutter your closet
As you fold away your summer t-shirts – and pull out your sweaters and cardigans – take a moment to declutter your closet for the new season ahead.
Donate any items that don’t fit well or make you feel great. And get rid of anything you haven’t worn in years.
A good clean-up streamlines your closet, gives you extra space and boosts your energy.
Decluttering is more than just getting rid of unwanted items. It benefits your life in unexpected ways. It makes you more organized and saves you time getting dressed in the morning.
Decluttering also lets you get rid of the guilt that comes with piles of clothes you never wear. Donating or selling unwanted clothes ensures they go to a better home.
And a good declutter motivates you to streamline other parts of your home, like kitchen junk drawers and stacks of unread books.
You create more space for better things and let go of stress-inducing clutter.
A smaller, more streamlined closet also gets you in touch with your personal style. It highlights items that you love wearing and teaches you about what just doesn’t suit you.
Fill up those longer autumn evenings with crafts that let you unwind and get creative – instead of reaching for your phone.
It’s tempting after a long day to relax with your social media feed or to binge-watch the latest TV series. But that won’t invigorate you as much as making something with your own hands.
And while an evening of arts and crafts doesn’t seem very plausible when you’re tired, you’ll be amazed at the energy it gives you afterwards.
Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create something that’s perfect. Let yourself play around and experiment – and enjoy the process.
Relax with some music or a glass of wine and try your hand at these projects:
create a framed collage of leaves that you’ve collected and pressed flat
make a centerpiece for your dining table with fall leaves, acorns, apples, miniature pumpkins and autumn-colored flowers
wrap cinnamon sticks around a candle for a fragrant, fall-inspired centerpiece
use a wreath form to create an easy pinecone wreath
8. Decorate your home in autumn colors
You’ll be spending more time at home now that autumn is here and the evenings are longer and darker.
Create a cozy space that you’ll love spending time in with fairy lights, cozy blankets and autumn flowers.
Clear away any mess to make your home comfortable. And make space for a vase of fragrant eucalyptus, a new auburn tablecloth and other touches that bring in the fall colors indoors.
Autumn colors include deep greens and purples, burgundy, warm oranges and yellow ochres. Use these colors in throw pillows, vases and other accessories to accent your home with seasonal decor.
Hang an autumn wreath in your living room and add a bowl of miniature pumpkins to your coffee table to bring more of the outdoors inside.
9. Do a digital declutter and detox
Go into the colder seasons with a clear mind that’s unburdened by the constant pings of notifications and emails.
If you spend hours a day scrolling your phone and watching TV, take stock and become aware of your screentime.
Social media and its excesses are now well-known to cause depression and anxiety. And if you’re racking up hours of screentime a day, chances are you’re more hurried than you need to be.
The autumn equinox is a perfect time to step back, slow down and take control of your time.
Start simple and unsubscribe from any unnecessary newsletters. Declutter your inbox and create some folders to organize your emails if needed.
Take a phone-free evening and put all your devices well out of reach. Disconnect and spend some time with a good book, take a bath, flip through some magazine or listen to music.
Notice if you feel anxious and unfocused without your phone. Your concentration deteriorates the more time you spend scrolling fast-paced social media feeds. And it takes time to build your concentration back up again.
Schedule a regular weekly phone-free evening with yourself and you’ll be surprised how good it feels to put your phone away – and how quickly you get your focus back.
As you enter the new season, let go of all the unfinished work that’s been laying on your backburner.
If your work has piled up, cross out anything that’s not essential and focus on a few key tasks going forward.
Let go of any busywork and cross out any tasks that aren’t absolutely essential. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then focus on a few things and do them with more focus.
Cancel anything that you don’t really look forward to and streamline your schedule to include more of what you really love.
Now is also the time to fix that leaking sink, renew your passport and get a dentist checkup – aka all the things you’ve been putting off.
You’ll feel calmer going into the new season when you don’t have those pesky errands hanging over your head.
14. Host an autumn feast
The autumn equinox is traditionally a time to gather crops and celebrate the harvest with a feast of seasonal foods, apples and wine.
Revive this beautiful tradition and host an autumn feast of your own. Whether that’s a gathering with friends or your partner, or a meal to celebrate on your own, honor this time of year by appreciating all of nature’s bounty.
Cook up a soup or stew with seasonal root vegetables, potatoes and squash, or bake a quiche with whatever looks good at your local farmer’s market.
Include some wine or apple cider that’s traditionally accompanies a harvest feast. And end it with a desert of apple or pumpkin pie.
And if you don’t enjoy cooking, stock up on seasonal foods at your local deli or treat yourself to a meal at a local restaurant.
15. Create a Mabon altar
Create a small altar in your home filled with leaves, seasonal offerings and anything that reminds you of the sacredness of this season.
Your altar is a reminder of nature’s blessings – and a space for meditation, journaling and reflection.
You can create an altar just about anywhere in your home where there’s enough space – whether that’s your windowsill or your kitchen table. It should be a place you’re comfortable sitting in.
Here are some items to include in your Mabon altar:
harvest fruits and vegetables like apples, corn, pumpkins and pine cones
colors like gold, red and brown
spices and scents like cinnamon, apple and orange
crystals in dark, green and brown colors
candles to celebrate your blessings
any items that hold personal meaning to you during this season
flowers like sunflowers and marigolds
herbs like rosemary, sage and cinnamon
16. Make a wreath
Bring the fragrant outdoors into your home with a simple autumn wreath filled with colorful leaves, pine cones and cinnamon sticks.
Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas – and they’re a great tradition to add some fall atmosphere to your doorstep and living room.
Make your wreath seasonal by adding autumn colors like reds, yellows and bronzes. Add some dried orange slices, eucalyptus and a few drops of essential oil to fill your home with the aromas of the season.
Or make a simple wreath with a wreath form and pine cones gathered from your backyard.
Here are some items to add to your fall wreath:
olive branches or wheat
dried orange slices and yellow flowers
pine cones and acorns
burgundy and gold ribbon
apples and miniature pumpkins
17. Bake a loaf of bread
A loaf of bread made from the wheat gathered from the fields is a traditional symbol of the harvest.
Honor this timeless tradition and bake a loaf of your own to warm your home with the scent of yeast and grain.
And if you’ve never made bread before, you’ll be surprised how few ingredients go into a loaf – and how easy it is to make a dozen rolls or a loaf of rosemary bread.
Serve your bread with some garlic butter or fry it in olive oil for toast. Homemade bread is also great with a hearty autumn stew or diced and toasted into croissants.
A loaf of bread is a simple yet stunning centerpiece to any autumn equinox feast.
Here’s a simple and delicious bread roll recipe that’s perfect for beginners:
Ingredients: 1 tbsp instant yeast 1 tbsp sugar 2 cups warm water 2 tsp salt 6 cups flour
Directions: Mix the yeast, sugar and water together in a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix together the salt and flour. Add the liquids in and mix everything well. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead until it becomes firm (but not too tough). Let it rest for 1 hour in a covered bowl.
Roll the dough into a long strip and cut it into 10 pieces. Roll those pieces into balls and place them on a greased and floured baking tray. Let the rolls rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown on top.
18. Do some nature journaling
Create a nature journal to raise your awareness of the nature around you – and the seasonal changes that are often easy to overlook.
A nature journal is an incredible tool that teaches you to be more observant, to slow down and notice all of nature’s breathtaking details.
Even if you live in a big city, you’ll be surprised how much natural phenomena – from birds to changing colors on the leaves – you can observe when you take notice.
Use your nature journal for some simple sketches of the leaves, animals and trees around you. Make some notes about what you observe, and how the seasons change over time. Include personal reflections on how the surrounding landscape makes you feel – and how you interact with it.
If you’re in the city, explore your local parks and nature reserves. Take along your journal to make quick sketches and study the flora and fauna native to your area.
19. Prepare for winter
The autumn equinox is a time to gather the bounty of the fields and orchards and bring them inside for storage.
It’s a time to can foods into jams and preserves that last throughout the long and cold winter.
Try your hand at canning to continue this tradition and appreciate seasonal produce in the months ahead.
And although modern grocery stores now stock just about everything year-round, canning and preserving foods makes you appreciate the changing seasons. And it lets you take a more natural approach to food.
Dry some herbs or make preserves and jams if you don’t have much experience with canning. These are great activities that let you appreciate and savor robust flavors without the sugars and additives of factory-made cans.
20. Deep clean your home
Enter the cold and slow autumn season with peace of mind that’s unencumbered by chaos and clutter.
Clean your windows to let in maximum light and dust any corners of your home that have been neglected.
Do some decluttering when you come across any junk piles you’ve forgotten about, like the space under your kitchen sink or the depths of your pantry.
Sweep under your furniture, dust off your crown molding and launder your curtains. These areas are often passed over but they will make your home gleam – and bright and airy for the darker season ahead.
Spray a mix of essential oils and water to freshen up tired rooms and textiles.
21. Start something new
Whether it’s an online course or a new hobby, the autumn equinox is a great time to start something new – or to get back into a neglected hobby.
If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at some gardening or watercolor painting, schedule in an afternoon on a weekend (an hour or two is plenty) to indulge your interest.
But don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Scheduling in your hobbies and interests into your weekly routines – and then turning them into habits – makes you far more likely to stick with them.
Don’t aim for perfection and don’t try to turn your hobby into a profitable side-hustle. Just enjoy the process and create something that’s only for yourself (and not for your Instagram feed).