ROSH HASHANAH, JUDAISM
Rosh Hashanah is a time for celebration and reflection in the Jewish faith as it marks the Jewish New Year. This holiday is celebrated on 1 Tishri of the Jewish calendar and it marks the commencement of the High Holy Days which is the most important part of the sacred year in Judaism. On Rosh Hashanah, it is thought that the deeds of the good are recorded in the Book of Life while the deeds of the wicked are recorded in the Book of Death which is why it is marked as a time of repentance upon reflection as well as celebration of the New Year to come. The blowing of the shofar, an ancient musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, is blown in many traditional observances. Another happy custom is to eat something sweet to set the intention of a sweet year ahead.
AUTUMNAL EQUINOX OR MABON, PAGAN
Mabon acts as a lesser Pagan sabbat, but an important one as it also marks the time when the day and night are equal. At this time, gardens are still verdant and lively but the chill of autumn is in the air at night and harvesting is in process and preparations for winter have begun. This is the time when many honor The Green Man, or the God of the Forest as we thank the earth for the bounty and sunlight of Spring and Summer and honor the darkness and the endings and the beginnings that the death and rebirth of the earth offers. This is also a time when many Pagans honor the Goddess as she makes the transition from Mother to Crone. This is a time for feasting and enjoyment and for finishing old business as we prepare for the rest and reflection that the long, cold winter months bring.
- Mabon Symbols: Harvested grains, fruits and vegetables especially gourds, pine cones, corn, apples and pomegranates. Vines such as ivy and horns of plenty are also popular.
- Foods and Herbs commonly used at Mabon: Honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, rose, sage and thistle are common herbs used in association with Mabon. Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, root vegetables and onions are commonly eaten in Mabon feasts.
- Incense of Mabon: Autumn Blend-benzoin, myrrh, and sage incense are popular at this time of cleansing.
- Colors of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold as traditional colors of autumn that honor the changing of the plants and trees as we move towards winter.
- Stones of Mabon: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, and yellow agates are all commonly associated with Mabon and the autumn.
- Activities of Mabon: Any activities associated with the harvest and preservation of foods are appropriate including wine making, gathering and preservation for the winter months. Walking in the woods, bringing offerings to trees and bonfires are also common activities.
- Spellworkings of Mabon: Spells and intention directed towards protection, prosperity, security, and self-confidence work well at this time of year. Many people also work towards harmony and balance.
- Deities of Mabon: Modron and Mabon, Persephone, Pamona. Thor, Hermes and The Green Man
This is a ten day Hindu festival that is celebrated in the end of September or beginning of October. The holiday honors Durga, who is the Hindu goddess of primal energy. During this festival the tale of Ramayana is often dramatized and performed and bonfires are often used as well. In this tale, Rama, the exiled prince, must battle King Ravana to save his wife. He prays to Durga for the strength to defeat his enemy and he is successful and brings peace to his homeland.
YOM KIPPUR, JEWISH
Yom Kippur is the The Day of Atonement in the Jewish faith. This is considered the most holy day of the Jewish year and is celebrated on the ninth of Tishri which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah. This is the day dedicated to atonement and forgiveness individually and as a people. Traditionally, since this is the Day of Atonement, Jewish people will fast and abstain from personal comforts and even sex. This is a day of reflection and repentance.
In Buddhism, the Rains Retreat ends with the full moon of October. This day is marked as Kathina or Kathin, the Festival of Robes, at which monks are presented with new robes from lay people. Common symbols associated with Kathina include carved serpents on the roofs of temples which represent the Buddha’s conquest of desire, and pincushions that are hung from the four corners of the temples to symbolize the hope for rebirth with sharpness of mind. Kathina is known as the only enjoined holiday in the earliest of scriptures from Buddha.
Sukkot is the Eight Day Festival or Booths or Tabernacles, and it is celebrated starting four days after Yom Kippur. Sokkot is traditionally celebrated by building an open air temple or sorts, a sukkot that is decorated with fall produce and in which families gather, eat and sometimes sleep to mark the holiday time. The sukkot is said to hearken back to the tents that the children of Israel used and survived in upon their escape from Egypt. Generally, four different types of plants are used and employed during sukkot to honor the bounty of God; a palm branch, a sprig of myrtle, a willow leaf, and a citron.
Kanname in the Shinto religion is known as the celebration of the Autumn harvest. As in other faiths it is a time of celebration and enjoyment of the bounty of hard work all year and an honoring of the year past and the cold months to come.
Diwali is the Hindu New Year Festival celebrated over five days. It is a time to contemplate the year behind, peace and prosperity in the coming year and the new harvest. It is marked on the New Moon and is often also named the Festival of Lights because of the candles and lights that are shone throughout the five days. Lakshmi is a popular goddess at this time as she symbolizes prosperity, Durga, the goddess of primal energy and Sarasvati, the goddess of learning are also honored. Vishnu, as the god of protection and sustenance is also worshipped.
ALL HALLOWS EVE AND SAMHAIN, PAGAN
As Beltane marks the coming of Summer, Samhain marks its end. In many circles Samhain is considered the witches or the Pagan New Year.
It is a time for reflection of the season that has passed and a time when we go from the light into the season of the dark. Samhain is celebrated on November 1 but the most potent time, spiritually is acknowledged to begin the night before on All Hallows Eve. Many say that this is the time when the world of the living and the world of the dead are at their closest and that this is a time when Pagans believe the darkness and cold of death bring new beginnings in their wake. Samhain is a time of acknowledging the cycles of life and of celebrating the mysteries of the dark.
Samhain Traditions: Bonfires and candles are commonly used in celebration and in divination. Fruits from the harvest like apples, nuts and gourds are used in celebration. Bobbing for apples is one of the oldest traditions at Samhain celebrations. In other traditions, casseroles or cakes were baked with a wedding ring tossed into the mix. Whoever got the piece of cake with the ring was the next to be married.
Many people take this time to acknowledge their ancestors and those who came before them. In fact, in some households because they believe the souls of the dead may be visiting, will lay out favorite foods and other entertainments for those who have passed over.
- Samhain Foods: Common foods use pumpkin, root vegetables and apples as homage to the season. Syrups and ciders are popular and used frequently during celebrations.
- Samhain Herbs: People traditionally use harvest appropriate herbs including acorn and oak, Apple, Corn, Hazel, Nightshade, Mugwort, Allspice, Sage and Catnip
- Colors of Samhain: Samhain colors reflect the season and include orange, black and brown.
- Samhain Gods and Goddesses: Hecate, Anubis, Isis, Osiris, Arawn, Merlin, Morrigan, Idunna, Winter King
ALL SAINTS’ DAY, CHRISTIANITY
All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1 and commemorates the works of all the saints in heaven.
Shichigosan is a special day in Shinto on which boys of three and five years old and girls of three and seven years old are celebrated and give thanks to the gods for a healthy life. They also pray for a safe and happy future.