It's the Autumn Equinox!

Here's how to bid summer a fond farewell—and get ready for fall in the most festive ways.

But First...What Is the Autumn Equinox?

There are two equinoxes a year—the fall equinox and spring equinox—and both mark times when day and night are equal in length. So, why is this worth celebrating? The autumn equinox marks a time when, from this point forward, days get shorter and nights get longer—so think of this as a goodbye party for summer. Here's how you can toast to the end of bright, light, summer evenings in the best way possible.

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Throw a Potluck

The OG Tradition: In China, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated around the equinox as a time to enjoy the bounties of the summer's harvest before winter takes over—cue a feast that rivals Thanksgiving dinner.

The New Way to Do It: Have your friends head to the local farmers' market and concoct a cornucopia of tasty seasonal dishes. But instead of focusing on fall flavors just yet, use this feast as a chance to enjoy the flavors of summer one last time before giving into pumpkin spiced everything.

Photographed by Rebecca Deczynski

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Pick Some Apples

The OG Tradition: During Mabon, a holiday that falls on the autumn equinox, Pagans use apples in rituals as a way to give thanks for the summer's harvest. Apples can be placed on altars or used during incantations.

The New Way to Do It: If magic isn't really up your alley, you can just go apple picking instead! Nothing makes you appreciate nature's bounty more than plucking it right off the tree and taking a big bite—or baking it into a pie later.

Photographed by Rebecca Deczynski

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Make Moon Pies

The OG Tradition: China's Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Mooncake Festival, due to the tradition of eating mooncakes (a Cantonese dessert) during it.

The New Way to Do It: Since mooncakes can be hard to find depending on where you live, some places (like the American South) have borrowed the equinox tradition, but have swapped mooncakes for Moon Pies. If you want to kick things up a notch, make your own instead of buying the boxed version.

Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

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Watch the Sunrise

The OG Tradition: Druids and Pagans convene at Stonehenge to observe the sunrise on the day of the autumn equinox

The New Way to Do It: Go to bed early and wake up around 5 a.m. to watch rosy-fingered dawn creep across the sky. Gather up plenty of blankets to stay warm, pull on a sweater (it is autumn now, after all), pour some hot coffee in a thermos, and sit in a park or on a rooftop with some of your best friends to welcome the new season.

Photographed by Stefan Marolachakis

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Spruce Up Your Apartment

The OG Tradition: Cleaning isn't just for spring. During Mabon, Pagans use the new season as a time for both spiritual and physical cleansing.

The New Way to Do It: Give your space a deep clean. Like, a really deep clean. Once you're done scrubbing floors and perfectly organizing bookshelves, feel free to burn some sage for a more ritual form of cleansing.

Photographed by Rebecca Deczynski

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Get Crafty

The OG Tradition: In Pagan England, fall was celebrated by weaving corn husks to make "corn dollies"—corn idols in the form of wreaths, wall hangings, and even, yes, actual dolls—that represent "the Spirit of the Grain."

The New Way to Do It: Maybe you don't have any corn husks just sitting around. It happens. In that case, you can still have some fun incorporating nature into your DIY projects. Try pressing flowers or leaves in heavy books and then framing them, as a way of capturing the end of summer in some seriously stunning wall art.

Photographed by Chantal Strasburger

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