YULE – circa Dec. 21
Winter Solstice, December 20-23, and it varies around the particular date on the standard calendar when the Solstice will occur astronomically. It is the longest night of the year, after which the days later will be longer as winter passes into the coming spring. In the Goddess worship, it is the time when she gives forth birth to the Divine Sun child that will both child and with time, father and lover of the next child within the cycle. For pagans, winter Solstice, is a time of feasting, as well as exchanging gifts, and it is the original Holiday that was modified into Christmas by Christian religions, even the part about the birth of the child. Most theologians that spent time studying the birth of Jesus will admit that he was born not on Christmas, which is the day celebrated as his birth, but instead in March or April. His birth date was moved to the Christmas date to help Pagans induce giving up old ways and allow their holidays during the spread of Christianity through the British Isles and Europe. When it comes to traditional adornments used during this period are oak, Yule Log, and a combination of holly and mistletoe, which was also been input into the Christian ways later on.
IMBOLC – February 2
Candlemas, Brigid’s Day is not common among all Pagans, however, it is very popular among Wiccans and Celtic sects. Brigid is the Celtic goddess of inspiration and fire, as well as smith craft, healing and poetry, while also being a representation of Love and Fertility of Femininity. Among the Celts, Brigid had a following so strong that the Christian church decided it was easier to assimilate her to their own system, which is why it came to making of Saint Brigit, as well as all the stories that they have created about her in order for her followers to leave their old beliefs behind so they would not side with the druids whom were thought of as “the snakes” due to their tendency of taming snakes in order to produce healing mixtures with their venom while also opposing the Catholic church. According to History, the druids lost against the odds presented by the church, led by a warrior who would be sainted by the church, Saint Patrick. Because of that, Christian rule of different sorts came to Ireland. On this day, hand crafts are often dedicated or sacrificed to Brigid. The celebration is done with a lot of candles and of course, with a lot of feasting. Christians also took and moved the date at the time Saint Valentine was created, so they can use this day for love reflections. Imbolc marks the recovery of the Goddess after birth of God. God uses his power to fertilize the Earth which makes the earliest beginning of spring occur. Imbolc is a sabbath of purification, fertility, and a festival of light, while also being a traditional time to imitate new members into covens and self-dedicated rituals. It is also known as Feast of Torches, Feast of Pan, and Oimlec.
OSTARA – circa March 21
Also known as Eostar and Spring Equinox, taking place in March 20-23 depending on the astronomical event. The Goddess covers the Earth wit fertility while the God grows and stretches it to maturity. During this time, the light is slowly overtaking darkness as the hours of day and night are equal. This is a time of action, planting spells, beginnings, and tending of the gardens, while it is also the start of the pagan year of spring among Wiccans and Celtics. The God and Goddess are praised by the first flowers, and they are thanked for the true return of better and happier times for everyone. Ostara is not a holiday of somber colors like ones which are found in Yule or Candlemas, but it is one of more colorful holidays instead. One of the most important factors during this holiday are feasting and socializing as well as t he celebration of returning colors to the natural world. Again, Christians adopted this holiday by making them mark the final days as well as the rebirth of Jesus, even if he died in June according to historians.
BELTANE – May 1
May Eve, April 30th-May 1st is one of the most important holidays for pagans. Beltane starts at dusk on the 30th and it continues until dawn of the 1st, it is the great Fertility rite of life. During this time, the God and Goddess conceive the sun-child, no matter which pagan tradition is involved. Christians discourage Beltane as a holiday, and they did not use it as their own holiday due to the power and nature of the day that is involved. However, even in Christianized Ireland, dance day of Maypole remained in May, as well as the giving of the flowers to friends who are cared and loved. The Maypole is a symbol of unity of the God and Goddess to create life, and the pole is a phallic symbol while the dancers and vines or streamers of lowers represent the goddess’s fertile womb as it takes the phallus of God while also receiving his seed. Besides the Maypole, there is often a bonfire where the members of the group are encouraged to jump the flames for their own fertility and luck. During this holiday, the evening is revolving around love, food and drinks. Unions of love are enacted in most sects. This is the time of handfastings and marriages in the pagan community, where some choose to begin, and some choose to end relationships of physical nature. During the get-togethers on this holiday, clothing is very optional, and it is mostly colorful and sensual. As this is a holiday of free love, even the sects that prudish about things usually accept the rules of this particular holiday. It is said and believed that children which are conceived on this day are going to grow up strong to wield great knowledge and power while also being healthier than anyone else.
LITHA – circa June 21
Is the Midsummer or also known as Summer Solstice taking part between June 20-23 depending on the astronomical event. It is held on the longest day of the year, and it is the celebration of light triumphing over darkness while also being a celebration of the beauty that light brings into life. Roses and other bright cheerful wildlowers are put on the altar and worn by everyone, while there are flows put in the circle as well. This is a changing point of the year, so it is a celebration of the spiral dance of the year that is commong among Wiccans. The holiday revolves around joy and feasting. Wiccans will attire themselves in bright and colorful adornments of flowers. During Litha, the usual foods are honey cakes and cornbread. It is not a holiday celebrated by all sects, and the ones that do celebrate it, do not celebrate it in the same way. Those celebrating would leap through bonfires to encourage health, purification, love, and fertility in the past. The midsummer festival is a classic time for all kinds of magic.
LUGHNASSADH – August 1
It is a great corn ritual of Wiccan belief, and in Celtic realms, this is a celebration of the wheat god. The corn is an Americanization, but there is a possibility that there is an American Indian traditional holiday which is very close this date that was borrowed by the American Neopagans. It is a very big celebration, and it can be considered a Pagan Thanksgiving, however, the time clock is different is different from Celtics. During this ritual, a lot of feasting and dancing occur, however, it is more somber than other holidays. Certain Pagans decide to celebrate this day simply as a day to bake bread and cakes for the upcoming winter while not doing any rituals at all while they are preparing the food. Pagans look at these times as ones when the God loses his strength as the Sun rises farther to the south each day, and nights slowly become longer as time passes by. The Goddess observes in sorrow, but also in joy, due to realization that even if the God is dying, he is inside of her as her child. Once summer passes, Wiccans remember the warmth and the bounty in the food that is eaten. This sabbath is also called August Eve, Feast of Bread, and Lammas.
MABON – circa Sept. 21
Also known as Fall Equinox, it takes place between September 20-23 depending on the astronomical event. It is a lesser holiday, which is why it is not celebrated as widely as certain other holidays, and it is most common among the purest Wiccan groups, especially those that are based around the works of Starhawk and other Dianic sects. It is a weaver’s festival and the braiding of cords is done as the process of spell casting that adds one life to what it is. Each person weaves into themselves things that they wish for, and the coven as a whole that does the weaving of the cords together unites their power and efforts symbolically. The autumn equinox is the finalization of the harvest which began at Lammas, and once again, the day and night are equal in length as the God prepares to leave the body and start a great adventure into the unknown, toward rebirth and renewal of the Goddess.
SAMHAIN- Oct. 31 / Nov. 1
During Samhain, the Wicca say goodbye to the God, even if he is ready to be reborn at Yule. Samhain is a grand sabbath, which is also known as the Feast of the Dead, All Hallows, Feast of Apples, and of course, Halloween once the time of sacrifice is marked. During this time, the animals were slaughtered to ensure food throughout the cold days that are about to come with winter. The God falls as well in order to ensure that our existence continues. This is the time when one would reflect and come to terms with a single thing in life that we do not have control over, death. Wiccans feel that during this night, there is a very fragile layer between the physical and spiritual reality as the guard is lowered and the veil is the thinnest. Because of that, it is the time of dimensional openings and workings, as well as the celebration of death of the year king. It is a somber holiday, with dark clothes and thoughts for the dead. It is also quite a common saying that those who happen to have necromantic talents can speak with the dead, and it is the time to remember the dead which one was close to. It is also a time when relationships come to an end, as well as bad situations and it is an era when everyone can see a glimmer of hope in their future. This holiday has quite a lot of concepts attached to it, and it is truly a time to remember ones ancestors and those who have gone before us.