Feasting on A New Tradition: A Mini Look at the Pagan Solstice and Equinox Celebrations

The changing of seasons provides such a feast for our senses. The change over of colors, smells, sounds, and temperatures is a reawakening! The grey, white, and brown colors of winter give rise to a riot of pinks, purples, oranges, blues – and oh those greens! – in spring. The sound of birds reawakening in the spring slowly fades as the rumble of summer thunderstorms take over, which then becomes the crunch of autumn leaves under foot. The lighter fare of summer gives way to richer, root veggie laden meals during that change to autumn as well. Then we enjoy those final crisp days, before winter comes in with its stinging cold yet again.

The coming of autumn is my favorite transformation. In fact, I feel much as George Eliot did (“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”), but it was a belief in the rejoicing of all seasons and the unique beauty they bring that lead to what is now my favorite new family tradition. While Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, are beautiful in their widespread revelry, I found myself longing for a celebration that was all our own. A holiday not already burdened with traditions handed down from generations past, and not tied so tightly to the family members now left halfway across the country in a move. I found the answer in the solstices and equinoxes.

It seemed so natural to fall into these pagan celebrations of Ostara (Spring Equinox), Litha (Midsummer, or the Summer Solstice), Mabon (Autumn Equinox), and Yule (Winter Solstice); celebrations that shared roots with my husband and I in the Celtic Pagans. While initially wary of what would be required of him, my husband was won over by the fact that these celebrations – like many of our favorite holidays – would culminate in a feast! My daughter was happy to add any celebration to our calendar, but was especially excited for the fun little rituals we would observe.

One of my own personal favorite holidays had always been Thanksgiving. I loved this holiday centered around food, family, and coming together – and the lack of focus on presents. However, distance from family had made this particular celebration more difficult for me; full of reminders of the who and what we no longer had nearby. Our four new celebrations held the appeal of being present-free, and while open to any who wanted to join us, being completely our own, needing us three alone to feel complete. We were building these celebrations from scratch and could make them what we wanted.

With a year behind us, our second Mabon complete and our second Yule fast approaching, it has been wonderful to see how we’ve been able to make this idea of mine into a real tradition. Each new celebration a chance to enjoy a feast in the literal sense, as well as a figurative one, embracing the unique beauty of each season and the feast it provides for our sense. Colors, tastes, sounds, and textures unique to the time of year are brought to the forefront for this day; and we even take the time to dress in a way that expresses those things. But the star, of course, is the feast at the end of the day.

That might mean a picnic for Ostara and Litha; a candlelit tucking in for Mabon and Yule. We eat, we drink, we discuss what we are ready for in the new season, and what we are leaving behind. If you’re looking for a little information to start your own celebration of the solstice and equinox holidays, then let me give a brief overview, while giving you encouragement to find your own holiday to embrace with your family! 

For each celebration, I start earlier in the day by throwing open the windows, and smudging the house with sage. Each a little way to clean out the old stale air and bring in new fresh energy.

Ostara is celebrated around March 21. We embrace the colors of green and yellow, and the fresh spring flowers just starting to emerge. We talk about what areas we want to find growth in, and what new projects we might want to start. We do a house cleaning. We eat eggs and other light foods, often in a picnic.

Midsummer or Litha is celebrated around June 21. We embrace the colors gold, orange, and blue. It is a time for a bonfire, and staying up late to enjoy the longest day of sun. We talk about community and taking care of the earth around us. We look for relationships that could use nurturing. We eat things cooked over the fire, as well as summer fruits and berries, and drink mead.

Mabon is celebrated around September 21. We embrace the gorgeous gem colors of autumn: orange, red, brown, and purple. We display cornucopias or gardening implements. The foods are harvest foods like corn, wheat bread, apples, pomegranate, nuts, grapes, and wine. We give back by donating food. We talk about what we are grateful for and preparing for the colder months ahead. We do a house cleaning, like in the spring.

Yule is celebrated around December 21. We embrace the colors red, green, and white; and display mistletoe, evergreen wreaths, and candles. We talk about renewal, the year winding down, encouraging a peaceful planet, and of family. We sing and maybe bundle up together. The foods are potatoes, squash, nuts, apples, pork, and spiced wassail.


While the first Mabon was really all my doing, with each new celebration, my daughter and husband became more and more involved in the process. Realizing how much they enjoyed the celebrations, they wanted to be more involved in the planning as well. They helped me design menu’s, find decorations, and decide on activities.

I’m so grateful for the warmth these rituals have offered to us. As well as the unique connection to nature and its cyclical nature, that they deepen in me. My warmest wish is that you find the same for your family. 

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~ Meegs