Wiccan Holidays

Wiccans, some Witches and Neopagans celebrate what is called the Wheel of the Year; eight sacred days – Sabbats – spread out over the year.

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Wiccans, some witches and Neopagans celebrate what is called the Wheel of the Year; eight sacred days – Sabbats – spread out over the year.

The Eight Sabbats

  • Samhain (Oct 31 – Nov 1)

The Wiccan year starts on Oct 31 and runs through the year to end on Oct 30. Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) is the third and final Harvest Celebration of the year. It is considered on of two “spirit nights”, the other being Beltane, and this is where the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is the thinnest. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to pay your respects to those who have passed. It is a celebration of rebirth through death. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Samhain on May 1st. It is one of the major Wiccan holidays, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas.

Traditional Samhain-lore includes: Mulled wine; Heliotrope and sage incense; the colors black, silver and gold; all black stones like obsidian; black cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, brooms, apples and gourds.

  • Yule/Winter Solstice (typically Dec 21)

This is the celebration of the rebirth of the Sun, a symbolism for the longest night of the year. The sun god is now reborn! From now on, until Midsummer, the days grow longer and the nights shorter. Traditions around Yule includes the yule log, mistletoe and glögg. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Yule on around June 21st. It is one of the minor holidays, along with the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.

Traditional Yule-lore includes: Yule tree, mistletoe and yule log; pine incense; cinnamon; the colors red, green and white; stones like rubies and garnets.

  • Imbolc (Feb 2)

This is the celebration of the start of spring and the aricultural season. Traditionally, a time when the sheep have their lambs and when the groundhog appears. The theme is centered around purity by birth; growth and renewal. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Imbolc on Aug 1. It is one of the major Wiccan holidays, along with Samhain, Beltane and Lammas.

Traditional Imbolc-lore includes: Ploughs, brooms and white flowers; vanilla or violet incense, the colors lavender, light green and yellow; stones like amethyst and turqouise.

  • Ostara/Spring Equinox (typically Mar 21)

The is the celebration of spring and the life force. The theme is centered around birth and thus the use of eggs and rabbits for symbolism. This is also one of the two days of the year when night and day equals in length. Light and dark are in perfect balance. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Ostara on around Sep 21. It is one of the minor holidays, along with the Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.

Traditional Ostara-lore includes: Rabbits, eggs and easter baskets; floral incense; ginger and olives; the colors yellow, pink and green; stones like jasper and rose quartz.

  • Beltane/May Eve (May 1)

This is the celebration of love, sexuality and fire – the other “spirit night” of the calendar. According to tradition, it celebrates the marriage between the Goddess and the God. A day to celebrate the coming of summer. In the nordic countries today we celebrate Valborg/Walpurgisnacht on Apr 30 by lighting bonfires, but we used to have a very old tradition associated with the dead in pre-Christian times. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Beltane on Nov 1. It is one of the major Wiccan holidays, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lammas.

Traditional Beltane-lore includes: Maypole, fires and light; jasmine and flax; colors like red, bright blue and white; stones like amber, topas and emeralds.

  • Litha/Summer Solstice (typically June 21)

This is the culmination of light and warmth, even though the actual warmest months are still ahead. This is the longest day of the year and a celebration of light. It is also a celebration of the Mother Goddess who is heavily pregnant, ready to deliver the fruits of the season. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Litha on Dec 21. It is on of the minor Wiccan holidays, along with the Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox.

Traditional Litha-lore includes: Sunflowers, mugwort, chamomile and roses; myrrh and rose incenses; colors like red, gold and yellow; stones like jade and green agate.

  • Lughnasadh/Lammas (Aug 1)

This is the first out of three Harvest Celebrations. This is the start of the harvest season and time to pick berries and reap early fruits and vegetables. Lughnasadh is the day of Lugh, the dying sun god. The days grow shorter and the darkness increases. It is only fitting to celebrate the circle of life and death by a celebration of the dying sun. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Lammas on Feb 2. It is one of the major Wiccan holidays, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane.

Traditional Lammas-lore includes: Baked bread and fresh berries; heather and grains; sandalwood incense; colors like orange and darkgreen; stones like carnelian.

  • Mabon/Autumn Equinox (typically Sep 21)

This is the second Harvest Celebration, the harvest of corn and wine, symbolised by clear yellow. Yet another day when light and dark are in perfect balance. But it is still best to celebrate the dying sun God by dressing in your finest, gather your loved ones to eat and drink from the harvest. Wiccans in the southern hemisphere celebrate Mabon on Mar 21. It is one of the minor Wiccan holidays, along with the Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

Traditional Mabon-lore includes: Wine, corn and sweet potatoes; autumn flowers and myrrh; seeds and pomegranates (also a symbol of Samhain); colors like brown, gold and dark red; stones like sapphire and topaz.

Other sacred days

  • Esbats

Full moon gatherings within covens are usually knowns as Esbats. Doreen Valiente distinguished between full moon Esbats and other Esbat gatherings.[1]

Sources:

[1] Valiente, Doreen (1989) The Rebirth of Witchcraft, p. 123

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