There are 8 sabbats, or Wiccan holy days. They are spread through out the year, and many fall on or close to Christian holy days. They are divided into two groups, Greater Sabbats, fall on dates of high energy. And Lessor Sabbats, which fall on the equinox and solstice days. These divide the year into eight more or less equal parts, like the spokes of a wheel. And are generally though of in that concept. The Wheel of the Year.
Samhain, is the first of the Greater Sabbats, it falls on what the rest of the United States calls Halloween (All hallows eve, in the past). It marks the beginning of the Wiccan year. It is a time to connect with our departed ancestors, as the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinest on this day. It is also a celebration of a bountiful harvest. It is a day of Thanksgiving, in the most traditional sense. Samhain falls on October 31st.
Yule, the first of the Lessor Sabbats, falls on the shortest day of the year, or the Winter Solstice. When the Darkness of winter finally yields to the light of spring. It is similar to the Christianized version of Christmas. We celebrate the coming of the Son of the Goddess (the sun also), who brings the light and awakens the sleeping earth. Yule is December 22nd this year (actually next year).
Imbolc, also a Greater Sabbat is celebrated on February 2nd. It is also known as Groundhogs day in the US, and Candelmas by people of the Catholic faith. It is a spring ritual, celebrating rebirth. This is a time that many covens initiate members.
Ostara, is the Lessor spring Sabbat, falling on the Vernal or spring equinox (the day when daylight and darkness are equal). It is celebrated on approximately the 20th of March (check your calendar as it is not a fixed day.) It is a celebration of Spring, new life, and fertility. Babies, animals and human were being born after the darkness of the winter, trees were in leaf. And the fields were ready to be planted. This is the closest we as Wiccans come to celebrating Easter.
Beltane, a Greater Sabbat, is the last of the spring celebations. It was the day that people could slow down, since the planting was done, and all the livestock had been born. It was a day to rejoice in love, it was the day for handfasting. Beltane, is also known as May Day, it falls on May 1st.
Litha, is the summer Lessor Sabbat, falling on the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, it is celebrated on June 21st this year. It is also a celebration of fertility, as this was the time when people could begin to see the fruits of their labor. The oats, and rye were growing in the fields, and fruits and vegetables appeared on plants and trees.
Lammas, is the first of the harvest celebrations, and a Greater Sabbat. The earliest vegetables are harvested. Food is plentiful. Lammas is celebrated on August 1st traditionally the day that the first barley harvest was complete.
Mabon, the final Lesser Sabbat of the year, is celebrated on the Autumnal Equinox, or the first day of fall, the 23rd of September. It is a harvest celebration, when all the food has been brought in and the stores of food are being put away for winter. It is the day that once again daylight and night are equal, and signals the coming of the dark as the days gradually shorten.
For more information, I suggest the following books, “The Grandmother of Time” by Zsuzsanna Budapest, and “Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions” by Pauline Campanelli. They are both packed with information, celebrations and traditions that I will not delve into in this blog, and great resources.
A Celebration of the Heart, is the only True Celebration. Let your heart sing and dance to it’s music.