Creating family traditions or finding ways to celebrate the festivals with children can be tricky. Here are some ideas from the children and families team on how they celebrate with their children, aged 9 months to teenagers.
I’m currently going through all my firsts with my 9 month old in terms of pagan festivals. This will be my boys first Mabon earth-side. Unfortunately we are currently in the process of moving house literally during the week of Mabon so my plan to do a big, hearty family feast will have to wait until we are a bit more settled in. On the bright side, the area we are moving too is surrounded by nature so we can really take advantage of our surroundings when our house is upside down! So our plan this Mabon is to go on some nature walks to look at all the lovely leaves changing and collect some for decoration around our new home. I also like to make my own American style apple cider filled with autumnal spices and served warm. If I have time I would also love my little one to try his first homemade pumpkin pie. I love baking this time of year and I always use my own spice mixes set with intentions for the season. When I can I also like to light some candles and just have some “me” time with deity. I either sit and meditate in silence or I get some things off my chest and have a right old natter! Whatever you decide to do this Mabon with very young children, remember that it’s not all or nothing. You can do as much or as little as you want and deity will always be with you. I hope you enjoy the changing season and make sure you have fun!
The Autumn Equinox has always been very important to me. When I was part of a coven, I had my dedication ceremony at the Autumn Equinox, in a field at the bottom of a hill topped by a modern stone circle. I chose this time because there’s something liminal about the autumn that I don’t feel as strongly in spring. The darkness of winter is on the way and the world is getting ready to rest, but before that happens, there’s still so much to do!
It’s this hustle and bustle of autumn that I take the kids out into to give them a sense of the turning of the wheel and the changing of the seasons. We watch the leaves turning orange, yellow and gold and fall into drifts just begging to be jumped in. We find acorns, sycamore and maple seeds, and ash keys. In the past, me and my eldest made pictures with the leaves and seeds, and I look forward to doing they again as my toddler is nearly at the stage where shell love that. My eldest however, is more interested in what I might do with the seeds. I place them on my altar, or keep them in my pockets, or learn about different uses for them. We never, ever take so many as to deplete the food supplies of the birds and small mammals that rely on them as the weather gets colder. I love the equinox because it’s immutable. The Earth will always reach the point where light and dark are just about equal; a time to pause, breathe and prepare. I teach my kids about how we used to prepare by storing away the last of the harvests for the colder months. Nowadays, it’s about preparing ourselves mentally. Making plans to have fun even when it’s freezing or tipping it down outside, and honouring and thanking the world for the beautiful tapestry of seasons that she weaves for us each year.
For us, celebrating the Autumn Equinox always seems to involve leaves. We gather up autumn leaves by the handful, ideally different kinds and different colours. We gather them from our local park (the one which is opposite the school and goes back to being our second home at least for a few weeks at this time of year), from the woods and from forays further afield. We gather all different colours and shapes, pressing them between heavy books to flatten them. Then we use them for all kinds of crafts, all with magical influence of course.
A favourite is to write or draw on them, listing the harvest we’ve made and the experiences and feelings we are most grateful for in the last year or perhaps the last season. We’ve strung these into garlands to hang around the kitchen and also displayed them on the wall as a kind of mandala, a seasonal reminder of all that we have and how much it means to us. I keep saying I’m going to use autumn leaves to lay out a labyrinth in the garden for us to walk but I haven’t managed to that one yet. Maybe this year will be the one, now that my children (who are 10 and seven) are old enough to be exploring ideas of meditation and sacred space.
Celebrating Mabon with Tweens & Teens
Equinox celebrations do take a bit of a back seat in our house. I know both my YA’s (young adults) can tell you the story of Persephone, can explain the symbolism of a hedgehog and can cook apples in about 15 different manners but, without the added hype at school, generating interest is more of a challenge.
My youngest’s birthday falls the day before the Autumn Equinox (I know it is not a fixed day, but her birthday is and she feels special!!). So, making this part of her birthday celebrations too means fruit and apple-based fun has long had a fond place in our hearts. While the days of making corn dollies and taking nature walks to gather bits for collages are behind us for now, we still love to have an opportunity to sort a really good meal and, as with a lot of our celebrations, food features high on the ‘what we used to do and still do’ list.
We are blessed that we both belong to a family that have an apple orchard (going with the generally accepted lower limit of five trees!! 😊) and an array of fruit trees and bushes in our local area to be foraged and enjoyed. Who could refuse fresh apple and blackberry pie or some sloe jam on a slice of warm, fresh baked bread? Even now, my two can’t.
Although we have always enjoyed cooking with fresh and slightly fermented apples, an interesting addition to Autumn Equinox celebrations, and our apple recipe collection, as mine have got older, has been making and sharing a little home-pressed cider.
As with all our celebrations, this is enjoyed around a fire pit. For my part, I will be writing on a piece of paper the things I am ready to leave behind, to be burnt on the fire, looking to use the energy of the Equinox to restore balance and order. We have done this as a family in past, and I will give my two the chance to do it this year, however, the older they get, the more they prefer to sit and enjoy the fire, uninterrupted by such things.