There are only two days a year when there are equal amounts of dark and light at the equator – Fall & Spring equinox. It is marked with rituals around the world and throughout the ages as a time to celebrate the richness of the harvest and to acknolwedge both abundance and balance – tangible and intangible – in our lives. The pagans would light a candle and bless the cakes and ales put on their altar. This day in the Wiccan calendar is known as Mabon and the cakes represent the masculine forces in nature, and the ales in the chalice represent the feminine. Again it is a time to honor balance, between the seasons, the light and dark, the masculine and feminine, and in all ways.
In China the fall Equinox falls on September 23 and is the half way point between “First Fall and First Hoar Frost”. At this equinox it is tradition to make sacrifices to the moon (in the Spring they are made to the sun), as the moon, the dark, the cold, the yin is the time of year approaching. Rice filled dumplings are eaten to celebrate this time. Though because September 23 doesn’t always fall on a full moon, and it is important that the moon be full for these rituals, so now it is often celebrated at the “mid-autumn festival” which is timed around the first fall full moon. Dumplings are given as gifts. This is the moment when yin and yang are in perfect balance. One fun tradition in China is to try and balance and egg on it’s end. This can only be accomplished on the equinox. Because yin and yang are in balance right now, it is important to eat foods that balance heat and cool, and to start preparing the body for the cool weather ahead – continuing exercise to boost immunity, and eating foods the strengthen the lungs (important for preventing illness in TCM) such as rice, honey, nuts and dairy products.
So here’s to a day to celebrate balance, abundance, harvest and health as we head into the colder, darker months ahead!