Earth-based holidays, a primer
Welcome to my basic introduction to pagan and earth-based traditions’ feast days. These special days, often called sabbats, are organized in a round calendar called the Wheel of the Year. Find links to more details below. Why are we talking about the Wheel of the Year? Have you ever felt like time was “slipping away” from you? Or your days just run together?
Observing the moon phases gives us visual markers of time, while celebrating the sabbats helps us to mark the passage of the seasons in a meaningful way. Personally, I feel fewer symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder when I plan low-key Winter celebrations instead of just staring blankly at dead plants.
Wicca and other earth-based traditions reconstruct what we believe to be the ancient customs of multiple societies. So, there are differences in how and when we choose to honor the feast days. Below, common Wheel of the Year dates and themes are listed. I’ve also included the nationally-recognized or Christian holidays that coincide with or are similar to each sabbat.
To learn more about each feast day, please visit the “Wheel of the Year Sabbat Calendar” from the Celtic Connection. You’ll find useful bits of history, interesting lore, and traditional ways to celebrate, including recipes.
As with most things, I recommend a relaxed approach to if, how, and when you celebrate that works well for you. I’ve worked night shifts for 5+ years, so I observe the holidays I choose on the date that works best for me.
Equinox: Date when days and nights are of equal length, occurs twice a year in March and September
Solstice: 2 points each year when the Sun is furthest from the Earth, occurs in June and December
More on Equinoxes and Solstices at timeanddate.com
Imbolc (St. Brigid’s Day Feb. 1st, Candlemas Feb. 2nd)
Themes: Growth and renewal, represented by lambs, blessing the seeds of life, the Maiden
Ostara, Eostara, Lady Day, Vernal or Spring Equinox (Easter, Feast of Annunciation)
First day of Spring
Themes: Fertility (represented by eggs and rabbits), conception, newborn animals
Beltane, Beltaine (May Day)
Themes: Weddings/ handfastings, sexual union, passion, joy
Litha, Summer Solstice (Feast of St. John)
First day of Summer, longest day of the year
Themes: Height of growth, abundant greenery
Theme: First Harvest, abundance, grain and apples
July 31st-August 1st
Mabon, Autumnal Equinox, Cornucopia (Thanksgiving)
Themes: 2nd Harvest, cider and wine, corn and root vegetables
First day of Autumn
Samhain, 3rd Harvest, Feast of the Dead (Halloween)
Themes: Honoring ancestors, divination, the Crone
Yule, Winter Solstice (Christmas)
First day of Winter, longest night of the year
Themes: Immortality (represented by evergreen trees), hope for the lengthening days of the year
More to Love
“Wheel of the Year Sabbat Calendar” from the Celtic Connection
“WHAT IS THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR & HOW TO USE IT // WITH FREE PRINTABLE” at ZennedOut.com