Pagans/Wiccans really dig harvest time (no pun intended). There are three harvest sabbats: Lammas (or Lughnasadh), Mabon, and Samhain (pronounced Sow-Wain).
Mabon is the mid harvest celebration. What does that mean?
It means that most of the fields are empty and fruit and veggies have been put up for the winter. It is also time to honor the changing seasons and since it’s the autumnal equinox, the balance of day-night or light-dark.
The following information on the history of Mabon is taken from http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/holidaysandcelebrations/p/Mabon_History.htm
Two days a year, the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight. Not only that, each receives the same amount of light as they do dark -- this is because the earth is tilted at a right angle to the sun, and the sun is directly over the equator. In Latin, the word equinox translates to "equal night." The autumn equinox, or Mabon, takes place on or near September 21, and its spring counterpart falls around March 21. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, the days will begin getting shorter after the autumn equinox and the nights will grow longer -- in the Southern hemisphere, the reverse is true.
Global TraditionsThe idea of a harvest festival is nothing new. In fact, people have celebrated it for millennia, all around the world. In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700's, the Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which actually begins in the last week of September, and it was a time of great feasting and merriment, still in existence today.
China's Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity.
Giving ThanksAlthough the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest time of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks. After all, it's when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter. However, by the end of November, there's not a whole lot left to harvest. Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued his "Thanksgiving Proclamation", which changed the date to the last Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt adjusted it yet again, making it the second-to-last Thursday, in the hopes of boosting post-Depression holiday sales. Unfortunately, all this did was confuse people. Two years later, Congress finalized it, saying that the fourth Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving, each year.
Symbols of the SeasonThe harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance -- after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.
Some symbols of Mabon include:
- Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes and gourds
- Apples and anything made from them, such as cider or pies
- Seeds, nuts and seed pods
- Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops
- Sickles and scythes
- Grapes, vines, wine
Feasting and FriendsEarly agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality -- it was crucial to develop a relationship with your neighbors, because they might be the ones to help you when your family ran out of food. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating. After all, the grain had been made into bread, beer and wine had been made, and the cattle were brought down from the summer pastures for the coming winter. Celebrate Mabon yourself with a feast -- and the bigger, the better!
Magic and MythologyNearly all of the myths and legends popular at this time of the year focus on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. Not much of a surprise, when you consider that this is the time at which the earth begins to die before winter sets in!
Demeter and Her Daughter
Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld. When Hades abducted Persephone and took her back to the underworld, Demeter's grief caused the crops on earth to die and go dormant. By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. These six months are the time when the earth dies, beginning at the time of the autumn equinox.
Inanna Takes on the Underworld
The Sumerian goddess Inanna is the incarnation of fertility and abundance. Inanna descended into the underworld where her sister, Ereshkigal, ruled. Erishkigal decreed that Inanna could only enter her world in the traditional ways -- stripping herself of her clothing and earthly posessions. By the time Inanna got there, Erishkigal had unleashed a series of plagues upon her sister, killing Inanna. While Inanna was visiting the underworld, the earth ceased to grow and produce. A vizier restored Inanna to life, and sent her back to earth. As she journeyed home, the earth was restored to its former glory.
Modern CelebrationsFor contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elfed, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr.
For most Wiccans and NeoPagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It's not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate.
If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community.
Mabon Feasting and FoodNo Pagan celebration is really complete without a meal to go along with it. For Mabon, celebrate with foods that honor the hearth and harvest -- breads and grains, autumn veggies like squash and onions, fruits, and wine. It's a great time of year to take advantage of the bounty of the season!
- Baked Apples with Salted Caramel Sauce – Recipe below!!
- 5 Easy Recipes for Baked Apple Chips
- Harvest Herbal Butter Blends
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Apple Butter
- Stuffed Grape Leaves
- Renaissance Faire Turkey Leg
- Buckeye Candy
- Pomegranate Sorbet
- Dark Mother Bread
- Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
- Autumn Beef Stew
- Baked Corn with Red Peppers
- Wild Mushroom Rice Pilaf
- Venison Pot Roast
Baked Apples with Salted Caramel Sauce:
Preheat your oven to 375 and gather your ingredients! Here’s what you’re going to need.
For the Baked Apples:
- 6 of your favorite kind of apples – I like Fujis or Granny Smith
- ½ C brown sugar
- ½ C chopped walnuts or pecans
- ¼ C golden raisins
- ¼ C honey
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ stick unsalted butter (that’s 4 Tbsp)
- 1/2 C heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp kosher salt (add more or less, depending on how salted you like your salted caramel)
The easiest way to do this is to start with an apple corer to remove the center (down to that half-inch point), and then grab a sharp paring knife to widen the hollow. Ideally, you’ll want to make it at least an inch wide, but go for two inches if possible, because you’re going to be stuffing that apple with other delicious things. After you’ve hollowed out your apples, place them in a baking dish with a little bit of water in the bottom. You can also use apple juice or cider, in place of the water, which will give your apples an extra bit of zing.
For your filling, combine the brown sugar, chopped nuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together in a bowl and mix well. Scoop the filling into the center of your hollowed out apples, and top each with a half tablespoon of butter. Place the baking dish in the oven, and bake for at least 30 minutes – 45 is probably better. You’ll want the apples to be tender but not mushy, so start checking them about half an hour in, because oven temps tend to vary.
Once they’re done, pull them out and baste them with the juice from the bottom of the baking dish, and then let them cool for ten minutes. Top them with salted caramel sauce, or a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Or both – we won’t judge you.
To make the salted caramel sauce, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla, whisking or stirring regularly. After about seven to eight minutes, you should see this mixture start to thicken. Add in the kosher salt, reduce heat to low, and whisk for another minute or two. Once you remove it from the heat, it will thicken even more, and be perfect for drizzling over your freshly baked apples!
Apple Recipe taken from: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/maboncooking/ss/Baked-Apples.htm