Witches everywhere celebrate a plethora of holidays. They are times of celebration and reflection, gathering witches together from all walks of life. Some celebrate the passings of seasons and times of the year, preparing them for what is to come. Some are more ritualistic and a place for healing and connection with the spiritual. The list goes on and on. Below are a list of witch holidays that have been celebrated by witches. This is by no means a complete list.
Wiccans, Druids and other modern pagans use the Wheel of the Year liturgical calendar. It is based on the agricultural calendar of Western Europe and defines a cycle, birth/sowing, growth, decline/ripening and death/harvesting and storage of crops. Some NeoPagan traditions attach cosmological storylines to these activities. The interpretation of the calendar varies from tradition to tradition, but most are of agrarian origin.
The Wheel of the Year is made up of 8 observances, known in the Wiccan community as Sabbats. Although their names and specifics vary by tradition, they are known by most as Yule or Midwinter, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer or Litha, Lammas or Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain.
There are eight observances, four quarter days or Lesser Sabbats are marked by the equinoxes and solstices. They occur on the 20th, 21st or 22nd of the month when the sun is at zero degrees in the sign associated with the Sabbat or the moment the sun enters the sign. That leaves the four Greater Sabbats, also known as the Cross Quarter Days. They are approximately halfway between the equinoxes and solstices when the sun is about 15 degrees in their respective signs. The modern fixed days of each of these is usually the first of the month and usually is a two-day festival beginning the evening before. Some people calculate these days astrologically so dates may vary. You can look into your own astrological calculations for more information.
Samhain takes place halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice when the sun is at a 15 degree Scorpio. It is also marked on the fixed date of October 31-November 1 or November 1-2 in the Northern Hemisphere or May in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the start of winter. It is often celebrated by NeoPagans as a feast of the dead and/or the Witches New Year.
Yule (yool) or Midwinter
Yule is the Winter Solstice and occurs at the 0 degrees Capricorn in December in the Northern Hemisphere, or June in the South Hemisphere. It is marked on the Gregorian calendar as the first day of Winter or the Winter Solstice. Yuletide is a time a rest, gathering and celebration of life. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
Imbolc or Candlemas is a celebration at the midpoint between the winter and spring Equinox at 15 degrees Aquarius or on the fixed date of February 1-2 in the Northern Hemisphere and often in August in the South Hemisphere. It is an ancient Celtic festival associated with the goddess Brigit and is celebrated by modern pagans. The festival is treated as the gateway to springtime and marks the halfway point of the deep winter.
Ostara is the Spring Equinox. It occurs at the moment the sun enters Aries in March in the Northern Hemisphere, and it may be celebrated in September in the Southern Hemisphere around the 21st of the month. It is usually marked as the first day of spring in a standard calendar.
Beltane is halfway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice when the sun is at 15 degrees Taurus or the fixed date of May 1st in the Northern Hemisphere or November in the Southern Hemisphere. It is often celebrated with a maypole, dancing and general outside fun in the sunshine. It is sometimes celebrated as a wedding of the god and the goddess.
Litha (lith-a) or Midsummer
Litha is the Summer Solstice in June when the sun enters Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere and in December in the Southern Hemisphere. It also lands on or near the 21st of the month, marked as the Summer Solstice or the first day of summer on standard calendars. The Solstice is celebrated as a day of the Divine Marriage and is sometimes seen as the day the Sun God is defeated by an enemy. It is a time for picnics, food and outdoor celebration.
Lughnasadh (loo-nah-sah), Lammas(lah-mus) or First Harvest
This is a celebration at the halfway point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox when the sun is at 15 degrees in Leo or the fixed day of August 1-2 in the Northern Hemisphere and February in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks the grain harvest and the start of harvest season. It is named for the Irish god Lugh and. It is generally celebrated by NeoPagans with fairs, games and food.
Mabon or Harvest Home is known as the Autumn Equinox when the sun enters Libra, takes place in September in the Northern Hemisphere or March in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also on or near the 21st of the month. It is marked on a standard calendar as the first day of autumn or fall.
Every four weeks when the moon is full, Wiccans honor the Goddess in a celebration called Esbats. They are considered by some to the “Second Wheel of the Year. They are the counterpart to the eight Sabbats, which marks the Sun’s journey compared to the moon. In some traditions, the Sabbats are a time of celebration with Esbats are times when magic work is done and more business related discussions and initiations can occur.
There are thirteen Esbats each year, traditionally lasting from midnight until dawn. They are often used to honor the female aspect of their deity or the earth. There will be dancing, singing and magic workings. It is a time where people can read poems and play tributes to the feminine. The days following the full moon are considered the strongest and the best time for magic.