Autumnal Equinox Festivals And Holidays Around The World

Autumnal Equinox Festivals And Holidays Around The World

From Asia to the Middle East and all the way up to the Northern isles of Britain - find out why the ancient cultures found this time of the year significant


The autumnal equinox that occurs anytime on the 22nd or 23rd September every year heralds equal nights and days in the Northern Hemisphere. It is then that the sun enters the astrological sign of Libra – the glyph of Libra represents the sun setting or rising. This expresses the balance between night and day.
Around the world, a lot of festivals and holidays are held in commemoration of this day. Let us jump into seeing how cool these are!

1. Chinese Moon Festival

This is celebrated not on the day of the equinox, but the full moon nearest to the equinox. It has been celebrated since the Shang dynasty. The best part is that is not gazing at the radiant moon, but the delicious moon cakes. Zhuang people believed that the Moon and Sun were a couple and the stars their children. Does that not sound like a fairy-tale? A similar holiday called Chuseok is held in Korea and parallel others in Vietnam and Philippines.

2. Ohigan Japanese Festival

The word ‘Higan’ means ‘other shore,’ but more so in Buddhism it means Nirvana (or paradise).The Japanese Buddhist belief Is that the land of the afterlife is due west, and during the equinoxes, the sun sets directly in the west. Hence, it is symbolic of the transitions of life. The week around each equinox, they visit the graves of their ancestors. The Higanbana flowers grow around this time of the year around the graves. The Japanese indulge in rice mochi cakes too!

3. Michaelmas and pre-pagan Christians

Michaelmas is the Catholic feast of the archangel Michael. Other archagels are also sometimes celebrated: Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael – its observance was mostly to draw the faithful from pagan festivals held around the same time of the year. Traditions include eating fattened goose and blackberries, and getting paid wages after harvest season! For all the various food recipes for this day, visit

4. Mabon and Neo-Druid equinox festival

Every year, “neo-Druids” gather at Stonehenge to watch the equinox sunrise as a way to offer thanks to nature for its bountiful harvest. However, the Druids used this day to honor the Green man/ “god of the forest” along with other Norse gods by offering libations of various herbs. Since it represented the second harvest of the season, it was a time to honor the spirit world and enjoy the fruits of one’s hard works.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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