Discover A New Autumn Family Tradition, Festival or Ritual!
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This post is all about Autumn traditions, festivals and rituals.
Hopefully, you’ll discover one or two that will become a new family tradition.
Traditional festivals generally focus on nature and the cycle of life.
The ebb and flow of the seasons: including light and day, regrowth, passing away, recycling, good and evil, equinoxes/solstices, ocean tides and moon phases.
By observing these cycles and changes we can be more intune with the earth, and connect with our ancestors.
Autumn festivals and traditions are a time to be thankful for everything we have, and to remember loved ones that have passed away.
And to celebrate life.
My family is not religious but we enjoy learning about other religions, traditions and festivals.
Further down the post, I’ve included some ideas for family rituals.
Many home ed families already enjoy rituals such as morning baskets and poetry teatime.
But, I’ve included quite a variety so likely you’ll discover a new ritual to try out during the autumn months.
Britain’s Harvest Festival is celebrated on the 22nd September. It is generally celebrated by attending special harvest church services, and many schools have assemblies and harvest activities.
However, Britain celebrated the harvest festival long before the arrival of christianity.
In fact, the US Thanksgiving originated from Britain, as the first English settlers carried on their Harvest celebrations in the new world.
Today, Thanksgiving is a secular celebration. And is celebrated worldwide, at various dates.
The harvest moon is always the full moon that shines closest to the time of the autumn equinox.
The 2019 autumn equinox occurs on the 23rd September for the US, and the 24th for the UK.
During the autumn equinox, the amount of daylight and nighttime hours are equal. The sun is directly above the equator. This only happens twice a year, during the autumn and spring equinox.
This year, the Harvest full moon that is closest to the autumn equinox falls on the 14th September for the UK, and 13th September for the US.
The harvest moon is termed ‘harvest’ because historically the arrival of this full moon coincided with the reaping of the harvest.
The Harvest moon shone over the farmers fields for several days allowing farmers to work longer hours, collecting in the harvest.
Fruits, vegetables, foods made from grains such as bread, and flowers are common harvest festival decorations.
Discover why this years Harvest moon is extra special here.
Things to do to celebrate the Harvest moon, Harvest festival, Autumn equinox, and Thanksgiving celebrations:
(technically we can celebrate the harvest moon, harvest festival and the autumn equinox throughout September and not just during their occurrence. Same goes for Thanksgiving festivities. So, if you miss one of the special days you can still mark it and have fun doing the activities.)
Create a fruit and vegetable display, add bread, rolls, cake and flowers. Take photos.
Construct your own paper flowers for the display. My Summer Solstice post has lots of links to different paper flower tutorials.
Pop some homemade popcorn.
Have a special harvest or thanksgiving family dinner. This site is good for getting ideas about thanksgiving foods.
Check out my Native American post as it contains a plant-based recipe for Three Sisters soup which is made up of the three main crops that the Native Americans harvested; squash, beans and corn.
Bake some pagan Moon Cakes that are traditionally enjoyed at full moon ceremonies.
Think of everything you have to be thankful for, including what you have in plenty e.g. families, friends, opportunity to home educate, animal companions, security.
Light a candle and remember your ancestors.
Paint harvest moon pictures.
Learn about agriculture with a ton of resources from Countrysideclassroom.org
Send emails, letters, text messages,social media messages, make phone calls, to your family and friends to spread happy harvest chear!
Get out all your family photos, digital and hard copies, and reminisce about the good old times, and the good times yet to come!
Construct corn dollies. My Native American post has a link to a tutorial.
Watch the Harvest moon sunrise or sunset.
Check out the autumn activities in my Virtual Nature Club Box post.
Sing along with the Harvest Samba song on YouTube!
Access these awesome ‘readers theatre’ scripts about the first US Thanksgiving. You and your kids can have parts and read out the interviews. This would be a perfect morning basket activity (more information about morning baskets below)
There’s lots of The First Thanksgiving learning resources on the Scholastic website to explore.
Access lesson plans on the moon from Mensa for Kids
Create a moon phase chart using Oreo cookies! The best thing about Oreos is that they are vegan friendly!
Access moonwalk lesson plans from Teach Engineering
Mabon 21st-29th September, 2019
Mabon is a pagan Thanksgiving, harvest festival.
Mabon is a Welsh deity and is said to be the son of Mother Earth.
Mabon celebrates balance as during the Autumn equinox, the day and night hours are in balance.
Mabon is a time to think about the changes in the season, from Summer to Autumn.
And to give thanks for everything the earth provides.
Mabon is a time to rest and celebrate, after the hard work of bringing in the harvest.
It’s a time to think about what changes you would like to see in your life, and what you could let go off.
It’s a good idea to focus on tying up any loose ends, or complete any unfinished work during Mabon. Then you can chill out more during the winter season!
Learnreligions.com has ten ideas you can use to mark Mabon, which include reading harvest stories, spending time in nature, and thinking up a gratitude list.
Try some Mabon recipes.
Thanksgiving Canada, 14th October 2019:
Harvest and Thanksgiving activities as suggested above.
Learn about Canada with these brilliant resources from TeacherPlanet.
Find out how the Canadian Thanksgiving differs from the American Thanksgiving.
Plan a nature hike. Walking and trekking in nature, is a common activity for a Canadian Thanksgiving.
Learn about the maple tree.
Apple Day (UK) 21st October, 2019
Apple Day was first marked on October the 21st, 1990, in the UK.
The day was set to celebrate apples and to raise awareness of the decline of traditional apple orchards.
At the core of Apple Day, is the ethos of humanity living in harmony with the natural world.
Check out this list of Apple Day events happening up and down the UK throughout now to December, 2019.
Explore the apple activities and videos on PBS learning media.
Diwali October 25th-29th, 2019
Otherwise known as the ‘festival of the lights’
Diwali is a harvest festival.
Diwali is a Hindu festival. But can be celebrated by people not within the Hindu religion, as it can increase understanding of other religions and people. Many Indians who are not religious still celebrate Diwali.
This festival celebrates the idea that good has brought the light and conquered evil, the darkness.
Lakshmi, the hindu goddess of riches, is the main deity of Diwali.
Activities to celebrate:
Make Diwali clay bowls for tealight candles.
String up your Christmas lights.
Make some of the Diwali crafts over at ActivityVillage
Play some bollywood music and learn some bollywood dance moves.
Cook up some Indian food with this selection from Good Food which includes vegan options.
Lots of Indian sweets are consumed during Diwali. This site has some easy recipes to explore.
Give your family and friends gifts of sweets and dried fruits.
Hindu families often create altars for Lakshmi, and decorate it with images of riches. Create a ‘wealth/riches’ collage. Fill it with pictures of what wealth means to you. Doesn’t have to be all material possessions, include family, friends, pets,and symbols of love, friendship and good health.
Learn about traditional Hindu threshold art and create your own artwork.
Watch the Story of Diwali on YouTube.
Learn about India with this video from Geography Now on YouTube.
Halloween, 31st October, 2019
Also known as All Hallows Eve
Activities to celebrate:
Dunk for apples. Float apples in a basin of water and try and catch one using either your teeth or a fork. Hold the fork handle in your mouth!
Dress up and go guising. Visit your neighbours and friends and announce ‘trick or treat, give us something good to eat’ as they answer the door. Have a joke prepared.
Prepare a bucket of sweets for guising visitors that may visit your door.
Prepare a pumpkin lantern.
In Scotland a turnip lantern or ‘moot’ is traditional. Find out more on this site and how to carve one. Though a turnip lantern is much more difficult to carve than a pumpkin!
Draw scary faces onto oranges and satsumas, with felt pens. These look like cute little baby pumpkins besides the actual pumpkin lantern.
Prepare a bowl of scary punch using cranberry or raspberry juice. Add a tin or two of mixed fruits and perhaps a confectionary ‘eyeball’ or two!
Prepare some spooky food.
Vintage Apple Ducking
Light a candle for your ancestors, and loved ones that have passed away.
Listen to some ghoulish music
Learn about the origins of Halloween over at History.com
Explore this Halloween media collection from PBS.
Learn about mythical animals with my cryptozoology nature post. This post also has a ton of ideas for a mythical/fantasy homeschool project, as well as 100 fantasy/mythical movie suggestions.
Samhain 31st october-sunset 1st November, 2019
Samhain is gaelic in origin.
Samhain is the pagan new year.
Samhain lasts from the 31st October until the sunset on 1st November.
Samhain signifies the end of harvest season.
Samhain is a time for honouring ancestors.
Samhain is celebrated with feasts, guising, bonfires and gatherings.
Bake Soul cakes Learn religions.com has some good recipes.
An idea adapted from learnreligions.com is to create a family tree altar cloth. But instead of an altar cloth perhaps use a plain table runner or table cloth, and write out your family tree on the cloth. Use the table cloth for a special family dinner. Or use an old plain pillowcase, and your child could write out their family tree. Even draw little sketches representing each family member. Pop it on your child’s bed as a reminder of their ancestors, and loved family members.
Wear the Samhain colours of orange and black, orange represents life and black the ending of life. But with each ending, a new beginning always arrives, as the cycle of life keeps turning.
Samhain in a time to appreciate the natural world, and learn about the cycles of life. Also to celebrate life!
Go on an earth walk. An earth walk is a sensory walk, where the focus is on what you hear, what you see, what you can feel, what you can taste, and what you can smell. The idea is to be mindful of all these senses as you walk in nature. You don’t need worksheets or scavenger charts, just be you in the wild space. We are not separate from nature, we are nature!
All Saints Day 1st November
All Saints Day is a christian day where saints and martyrs are remembered.
Special church services are held.
Access some lesson plans for All Saints Day and All Soul Day.
All Souls Day 2nd November, 2019
All Souls Day is a christian tradition, where prayers are said for those who have passed away.
Bake All Soul Cakes.
Or bake a Soulmas cake.
Dress up as an angel, devil or saint.
Learn about angels.
Learn about purgatory.
Day of the Dead 2nd November, 2019
Also known as Dia De Los Muertos.
A Mexican festival that celebrates life.
Mexicans believe that on the Day of the Dead, loved ones whom have passed away can arise again and join in the celebrations.
Ofrendas are special alters that are created and filled with offerings, for their returning loved ones.
Day of the Dead activities:
Access this educational and fun pdf activity book, from the mexic-artemuseum.org it has crafts, puzzles, recipes,history and quizzes, write a poem activity, traditions, create your own ofrenda, etc.
Learn about the Day of the Dead and build your own interactive alter here.
Learn about Day of the Dead food.
Learn about Day of the Dead traditions.
Learn about sugar skulls.
Ancestors Blot 11th November, 2019
Ancestors Blot is a neo-pagan Norse tradition that focuses on the land and the need to respect and care for it.
Nature spirits are also honoured.
Ancestors are remembered, especially those that cared for the earth.
- Activities to mark Ancestors Blot:
A blot is a sacrifice! But in modern times a sacrifice can be understood and practiced as symbolic. Perhaps scatter some seeds around a tree as an offering to the tree deities or spirits.
Prepare some bird fat balls, and give these as offerings to the nature spirits. And the birds of course!
Learn about John Muir, a remarkable naturalist who dedicated his life to conserving green spaces. There’s lots of John Muir educational resources to explore on the sierraclub.org website.
As this tradition is norse in origin a Viking Norse feast would be ideal! Learn more about Viking feasts.
Light some candles to honour your ancestors.
Learn about heathery, which includes the traditional Norse gods.
Learn all about Viking society.
Watch the Thor (2011) series of films!
Thanksgiving USA 28th November, 2019:
Harvest and Thanksgiving activities as suggested above for September.
Bake a vegan pumpkin pie. (I will be posting up a vegan pumpkin pie recipe, likely next month in October)
Bake a vegan apple pie. Again I will post my own vegan apple pie on my blog soon.
Stir-Up Sunday 24th November, 2019:
Stir-up Sunday is the traditional day to prepare and steam your christmas pudding. I will be posting up my own vegan christmas pudding recipe, it will be posted a few weeks before Stir-up Sunday.
Twenty-fourth of November is Stir-Up Sunday because there are no more Sundays, between now and the start of Advent.
Everyone in the family takes a turn to stir the pudding.
Each person makes a special wish as they stir.
Its traditional to place silver coins, thimbles or other small tokens in the Christmas pudding. But be aware of the choking risks if you decide to do so.
Learn more about the Christmas pudding here.
Read about dried fruits here.
Discover A New Autumn Family Tradition, Festival or Ritual
Below is some ideas for family rituals and routines that can be tailored for you individual family.
Perhaps one or two will become much loved family traditions.
Hope you all have a great time making happy memories over the Autumn season!
Movie or Film Night:
Pick a movie!
Prepare snacks and drinks.
Close the curtains.
Enjoy said movie!
When my kids were younger, we would go one further and my kids would prepare cinema ‘tickets’ and they would be the film ‘ushers’!
Movie choices could be themed to go with whatever projects your studying in home school: Historical, environmental, mythical, fantasy, foreign, geography, art,nature, science, as well as science fiction, etc.
For 100 fantasy and mythical film choices, check out my post Cryptozoological nature journaling
An excellent site for film choices with lesson plans is teachwithmovies.org
For history movies: Historical movies in chronological order
For film resources, and a place for your kids to write film reviews: IntoFilm
Set a time limit for your games night if you’d like more of a structure.
Two hours is a good average time, seeing as games like monopoly or scrabble can take a while to complete.
Play games! Any kind of games that your child enjoys: charades, card, and dice. Also pencil and paper games. Bingo is a classic game enjoyed by everyone. This website is awesome as you can print custom bingo sheets for free! Vocabulary words your child is currently learning, maths problems, project themes, even an autumn bingo version! This website has a huge list of board games to print. I recommend the Woodland Craft game, find it under the free printable roll and write list. Another relevant one for this post is the Autumn Stroll game, find it on the same list as the Woodland Craft. For more game suggestions check out my post 15 family activities and games for travelling.
Discover the tabletop RPG game Dungeons and Dragons! Once you get your head around the rules, character creation and game play, you’ll find that it’s an amazing, time-absorbing game that will result in your child’s imagination taking a sky-rocket! The game also has many academic benefits, as well as a great way to practice social skills for those with Autism spectrum disorders and anxiety. Check out this article for more information. D & D is a great game for kids to realize that awesome game play doesn’t have to come from a games console!
Bring Earth Hour or day to your home regularly! Designate your own special Eco evening or day. Perhaps weekly, every few weeks or monthly.
For a designated time, turn off all the non-essential electrics and light sources.
Bring out torches, candles and wind-up battery torches or radios!
Decide how you want to spend the evening as a family.
Could be cook supper outside on a little camp stove, play games, read stories, listen to the radio, or create artwork by candle light, etc. Playing charades by candle-light sounds fun!
Explore these educational earth resources from the World Wildlife Fund.
Read Aloud evening could be themed or just a hodge-podge mix of good books.
Take turns reading aloud to each other.
Discover oral storytelling, that doesn’t require an actual book. This is the method stories were historically handed down through the generations.
To begin, everyone could retell a fairy story or other story they know well, before moving on to invented stories.
Puppets could be incorporated into oral storytelling. As well as drama and hand gestures. Encourage the use of different voices for different characters.
Access a shadow puppet lesson plan here.
Check out these lesson plans on oral storytelling from PBSlearningmedia.
Check out my Nature Club post, at the bottom it has links to free Project Gutenberg books with an Autumn and Thanksgiving theme.
Check out my summer solstice post as it has lots of links to nature and fairy tale books to read for free.
Finally for more Project Gutenberg nature story ideas, check out my nature book suggestion post.
In essence a morning basket could be described as a morning ritual that bridges the time between breakfast and your home learning day routine.
A morning basket provides structure and routine, which many kids love as they can predict what will happen next.
A morning basket is an ideal replacement for morning TV.
A morning basket can include books, puzzles, writing/drawing prompts, a soft toy, and a few fidget/sensory toys.
Find out more about morning baskets here.
Check out my art/music/ writing prompts all with an eco-nature theme, and ideal for including with a morning basket ritual.
Perhaps introduce a different fruit or raw vegetable, each week to be tested and tried during your morning basket routine. Kids will be excited to see what fruit they will be nibbling on that morning during basket time!
The time spent on your morning basket ritual could be anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour, or longer if that suits your family routine. But I would say 30 minutes might be more realistic for busy family routines.
One of my favourite homeschool rituals!
Tea, treats and books!
Everyone sits around the table, or on the sofa and using a side table if preferred, and tea is served.
Ideally, use a teapot with cups and saucers.
Kids will love pouring the tea, adding sugar lumps and stirring in milk.
A variety of herbal teas could be offered or weak normal tea, depending on kids ages and parental permission.
Juice or milk could be provided and poured into a teapot, for the fun of pouring!
Nibbles, fruit and little cakes could be provided.
Finally a poetry book or two is required.
Or access to a poetry website, and some poems printed. But most libraries have a good selection of kids poetry books.
Poetry book ideas could include Beatrix Potter, Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse, Edward Lears The Owl and The Pussy Cat, Usborne Book of Poetry, and lots more!
The idea is that poetry is enjoyed with tea and nibbles. A satisfying way to spend an hour, once you’ve had one poetry teatime, you will be hooked!
Poetry ‘Starters’ :
This is similar to poetry teatimes but is much shorter in duration.
Before each meal, or just one meal, recite a poem, and then it will be your poetry ‘starter’!
This is a great way to introduce poetry into your daily routine, and make it second nature.
World Cuisine Night or Homemade Takeaway Night or Social Studies Supper Evening:
Decide which country you would like to visit for dinner, and the rest of the evening.
Learn some foreign language words, write these down so that you can practice conversing to each other.
Cook your chosen countries traditional food.
Eat the food how it is traditionally eaten i.e. hands, chopsticks, scooped up with flatbread, spoon, sitting on floor, etc.
Learn about your chosen countries culture and customs.
Play some traditional music.
Try dancing one of your chosen countries traditional dances.
Draw the countries flag and prop it up on the dining table, or near where you eat, as a decoration.
Find a documentary to watch about your chosen country. Our family enjoys the Geography Now YouTube channel. The short videos for each country are fun to watch.
Reenactment /Living History Evening/Day:
Research a medieval feast. Plan and prepare. I plan to do this with my kids soon, and predict it will be so much fun!
Play medieval music. Perhaps dress up and assign characters to each person. Keep in character during the evening!
Have a medieval peasant style dinner and evening! This would mean candles and tunics! And vegetable pottage which was inexpensive. What did medieval peasants do in the evening?
Other themes could include:
WW1 or 2 trench! Your a soldier living in the trenches. Research what they would have for dinner, and what would they do in the evenings?
Stone age Paleolithic meal
Poor Victorian child meal
A 1950s school or home dinner and entertainment!
For more information on feasts, seasonal renewal, and festivals throughout history check out the Britannica.com entry.
My son and I are going to have so much fun designing and preparing plant-based versions of these ideas!
This is like the living history evening, except the theme of a book is the focus.
Read the book during your living book evening festivities.
Think of the wizarding world of Harry Potter: Read Harry potter books, watch a HP movie, dress up like the HP characters and remain in character throughout the evening, play HP themed games, and eat HP food such as pumpkin pasties and drink butterbeer, aka. ginger beer!
Other themed suggestions:
The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings
The Gruffalo, By Julia Donaldson. For food come up with imaginative ideas to make ‘scrambled snake’ ‘gruffalo crumble’ and ‘owl ice cream’! Download this pdf of Gruffalo puzzles to enjoy during your living book evening.
Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and The Secret Seven: think ”lashings and lashings” of ginger beer, pies, ginger bread, all packed in a basket, ready for an adventure!
Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. Check out this amazing resource guide full of lesson plans, ideas as well as celebrations and event guides, for the books.
Winnie the Poohby A.A Milne
The Wind in the Willows. By Kenneth Grahame. Try this recipe for Bubble and Squeak based on the book.
Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, and have a Mad Hatters Themed evening complete with tea party.
One of Charles Dickens books. For example A Christmas Carol would make a brillant theme for a living book evening near Christmas!
Little House in the Big Woods and The Waltons themed evenings would be brilliant ideas. Have fun researching your evening!
Pampering evening could take place every few weeks, monthly or annually. Or at the end of your homeschool term!
Check out my post Junior Eco-Beautician for lots of eco-friendly pampering ideas
Bake lots of goodies for the week ahead on the Sunday or a different convenient day.
Make sure healthy options are included!
A batch of biscuits, a loaf of banana or fruit tea bread, or a tray of carrot and courgette cupcakes.
By prepping you’ll always have a nice treat on hand during the week. It’ll also cut down on refined sweets and cakes, as well as the packaging.
Chop up a big tub of mixed fruit, for snacking on throughout the week. In season fruit such as apples are generally inexpensive at this time of year. Squeeze some lemon juice on the chopped apple, to stop it from turning brown as its exposed to the air.
Slice up some carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, pepper slices, sugar snap peas, etc.
By prepping your homeschool snacks and desserts for the coming week, you’ll have one less thing to think about! And more time for other awesome activities. Also, your child will have had an extra home economics lesson, but they won’t see it that way!
Sunday or Saturday Nature Stroll:
Many readers will already have this firmly incorporated into their homeschool routine. But for new homeschoolers, the nature walk might be a treat still to be discovered.
After lunch or dinner, go for a rambling stroll and soak up the nature! Or at any other designated time convenient to your family. The main thing is to make it a looked forward to family ritual.
Even if your child isn’t too interested in nature walks, they’ll still benefit from the time spent as a family in the fresh air, surrounded by the natural environment.
Check out this list of nature walk activities.
Even if you don’t know your animal companions birthday, designate a special pet day and celebrate.
Create a little birthday cake. I use one of those dog food packs that come in little foil trays. Tip it out and decorate it with dog treats. Perhaps pour some low-salt doggie gravy over!
Wrap a present up, in some tissue or news paper, minus the sellotape. It’ll be fun helping your pet unwrap it! When I was a child I would wrap up honey-muesli sticks for my gerbils and hamsters on their birthdays!
Check out this post with ideas for celebrating your cat or dogs birthday.
Pajama Day-Sofa-Duvet Day:
Pick a day could be monthly, every few weeks, end of homeschool term day, or a reward day for hard work.
Wear PJs for the entire day!
Lounge on the sofa with your duvets.
Many homeschoolers already do this as normal practice!
But during the autumn months this type of ritual day is much more fun, especially when it is blowing gales and pelting rain outside.
Learn about Planet People and how Literary Activism can change the world for the better. Be PJ-Sofa activists!
Learn about citizen science and how you can do awesome projects to save the planet, from the comfort of your sofa!
Read books, have discussions, play games, watch movies or nature documentaries.
Enjoy some Nature-Eco themed creative writing prompts.
Challenge yourself, whilst snuggled on the sofa, to a nature-eco art prompt.
An Autumn Bucket List:
Discuss and brainstorm with your child about what they would like to achieve or do during the autumn months.
Round the list up to about 10 things, or more or less.
Divide each idea up further into which autumn month it will be completed: September, October or November.
If wanting to go further, identify which week and which day the activity will be carried out.
This is a great activity to practice goal setting!
Alternatively just compose the list and leave as is, and tick of as you complete each goal, without setting actual months or days. Which is what my son will be doing with his Autumn bucket list.
I would love to know what your traditional, autumnal festivities are, and how you celebrate with your family. Post a comment below!
Also be sure to let me know how you get on with these activities that I’ve suggested. Thanks!
Discover A New Autumn Family Tradition, Festival or Ritual
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