A Witchy Holiday
People normally associate Halloween as the holiday for the witch, Halloween night isn't the only time of the year the witches and warlocks are celebrating and honoring the spirit. There are 8 Wiccan holidays in total that happen within a 12 month period that includes celebrating the earth, life, and death, honoring the seasons, elements, and ancient traditions and more. Although these are not mainstream holidays for most, some of the words and traditions mentioned in this article may seem very familiar to you. Using the northern hemisphere time when summer falls in June and winter falls in December. These are the most commonly celebrated holiday in the Wiccan community. Connected to the seasons, Wiccan holidays also known as sabbats or wheel of the year to celebrate the journey the earth takes around the sun. Due to misalignment between location and the gregorian calendar dates may vary between 1 to 3 days apart every year.
The year beings with Yule, also known as the winters' solstice. Yule usually occurs between the days of December 20-23. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Yule is the celebration of light, representing rebirth and hope. In Wiccan belief, the god is reborn at Yule after passing away during the previous sabbat. Samhain. Traditions during Yule is similar to Christmas, decorating the home in bright colors such as green, red, gold, and white. It is tradition to build an altar honoring the holiday by decorating with earthly items such as pinecones, evergreen branches, candles, holly, and other seasonal offerings. Yule is the beginning of the Wiccan holiday calendar meaning this is the time where intentions are being set for the year ahead, bonfires, candle lights, and rituals take place to bring fortune and positive energy into one's life.
Imbolc is the second sabbat of the year and it makes the beginning on my favorite season, Spring. Imbolc happens between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, during the days of February 1-2 people all over are making room for new beginnings and doing some spring cleaning. Imbolc is otherwise known as Candlemas honors Brigid, the goddess of healing, poetry, the sun, fire, and the heart. During this time people will honor her by building an altar with candles, seasonal plants, and foods to offer the spirit. Planting some seeds, baking, and lighting white and green candles all day. This is a great time to light a candle and make wishes for your friends and family allowing the candle to burn throughout the day also known as the flame of Brigid.
Ostara pronounced Ēostre is the spring equinox celebrated between March 20-23 depending on your location during the time of year. The southern hemisphere celebrates during the same days but in September while we celebrate Autumn. Ostara is an Anglo-Saxon goddess who represents dawn. A time of welcoming spring as we prepare by planting seeds and flowers, making plans, and promoting growth.
Beltane accrues at the peak of spring and the beginning of summer on April 30th and May 1st. During people are celebrating the fertility and abundance of the coming year. Traditions include having a "fire festival" where you honor life by building an altar with seasonal food and green plants, having a feast, and dancing around a bonfire.
Litha is commonly known as summer solstice which happens in midsummer during the days of June 20-23. During this time days will become longer and nights will become shorter. Throughout this holiday people celebrate by getting together to decorate and enjoy a day filled with inner power and brightness. Traditions include building a new altar to represent the midsummer celebrations by adding seasonal fruits, flowers, candles, and food. Candles are allowed to burn all day to honor the sun and fire spirit. A large bonfire happens at night where people can enjoy good food, music, and dance around the fire. Jumping over a bonfire during Litha is said to bring one good luck.
Lughnasadh pronounced Loo-nah-sah honors Lugh the Celtic god of light. Between the days of August 1-2, Lughnasadh is a holiday celebrating the beginning of harvest season, this time begins once the first crop of the season has been reaped. People gather together to celebrate by baking bread, having a large feast, dancing, and playing games. Lughnasadh is kind of the pagan version of "Thanksgiving" but honoring the wheat harvest.
Mabon named after mother earth's son is the celebration of Autumn equinox and the second harvest. Celebrated between the days of September 20-23 when day and night last the same amount of time. Like most Wiccan tradition building an altar with the seasonal food and plants. This is a time to give thanks to our lives, blessing, and spiritual connection.
Samhain is the final sabbat accrues on October 31st otherwise known as Halloween night. Samhain is the Wiccan new year and celebrates the dead. This is a very important night for witches and warlocks everywhere because during this time the veil between the living and spiritual world is very thin. Building an altar to honor those who have passed, offering seasonal food, and leaving it outside, having a bonfire, music, and dance in honor of our ancestors.
As you begin to explore the pagan holidays yourself throughout the year I wish you nothing but luck and love on your new journey to celebrate ancient holidays that not only thank the earth for all it does but allows us to remembers our spiritual guides and give back by creating new alters and burning candles. While these are holidays for the everyday witch you also should be aware that no spells, sacred rituals, or spirits need to be summoned to enjoy the festivities and celebrate all the holidays. For further information on each holiday, I recommend researching more for authentic recipes, alter inspirations, and to dig deeper into history.