For my family, the autumnal equinox has always been our ‘Pagan Thanksgiving’. A few months later, we have actual Thanksgiving with both my husband’s and my extended family, but this is a more intimate, immediate-family oriented gathering. Just as the big get-togethers have their traditions and expectations, our little family has its own customs.
On the equinox, everyone helps to make the feast, often with veggies harvested from the garden. Little ones are given simple tasks like mashing the potatoes, and my oldest daughter loves to help roll out the pie crust for the apricots and apples collected at Grandma’s house. Like most days, we like to talk about where our food comes from – the cycle of life that provides for us all. But on this day, things are a little quieter. There’s important questions to contemplate.
Once the bounty is on the table, beginning to cool off, we begin. First, I take down the special Harvest glass from the cupboard – a simple goblet engraved with fall leaves and wheat stalks. It’s filled full of grape juice, a reminder of all the fruits and vegetables we harvest in this season. We pass it carefully around the table, hand to hand, each family member toasting the things for which they are thankful. In a way, it resembles a Heathen sumbel rather strongly; but instead of separate rounds, the Gods, ancestors, and spirits are hailed haphazardly along with love, family, and many of the other things we appreciate in our lives.
My oldest daughter is completely enamored with this little ritual of ours. When asked at school about holidays she celebrates, it was the first she described – beating out Christmas, Eid, and the fairy who visits with presents on the summer solstice. The sense of formality, of a truly grown-up ritual that she can nonetheless participate in fully, is magical to her.
Our Pagan traditions vary widely, from my own polytheistic Heathenry to pantheistic Wicca – what rituals or traditions does your family practice this time of year? Tell us about them in the comments!
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