Our family celebrates eight holidays which aren’t on the average calendar you might buy from Hallmark. Rather than trying to explain each if I mention it elsewhere on my site, I’ve decided to put the explanations here.
Please remember that these are my explanations of the holidays — they won’t be exactly the same as the ones Sam or any other person would give. If you’re interested in a more official explanation of these holidays, please check The Witches Sabbats.
Since the business world doesn’t necessarily stop for these holidays, like those celebrated by mainstream religions, we don’t always get to celebrate on the date of the official holiday. Just as people often have Halloween parties on the Saturday night nearest October 31, we tend to hold larger celebrations on a weekend night near the official holiday and have a private family celebration of the holiday on “real” day. Sometimes the actual astrological date of an event varies from the traditional or commonly celebrated date, so check the Calendar of Esbats and Sabbats if you want something more precise.
Midwinter — December 21
The Winter Solstice, longest night of the year, or Yule. The Holly King takes his place to rule until MidSummer.
Imbolc — February 2
Brigid’s Day, time to celebrate birth or other new beginnings, to contemplate the future, and to celebrate creativity. It’s a time of purification —spring cleaning. Imbolc was considered an excellent time for divination — hence the modern celebration of Groundhog’s Day. Brigid is the triple Goddess, or one of her aspects. She’s the goddess of the hearth and the deep well, patroness of healers (especially midwives), poets, and smiths.
Lady Day — March 21
Spring or Vernal Equinox, called Ostara in some traditions.
Beltane — May 1
A time of mating and celebrating fertility in all forms. It isn’t a coincidence that Beltane and Imbolc are about nine months apart. A time of planting.
Midsummer- June 21
Summer Solstice, shortest day of the year, called Litha by some. The Oak King defeats the Holly King and reigns ’til Yule.
Lughnasadh — August 1
Beginning of the harvest, sacred to Lugh, God of Light, and our time to celebrate the divine marriage of the God and Goddess.
Harvest Home — September 22
Fall Equinox and the end of the harvest — Thanksgiving, if you will — called Mabon by some.
Samhain — October 31
For ancient Celtic peoples, Samhain was celebrated just as modern Americans celebrate December 31 — last day of the old year. Samhain is a time of ending, a space to contemplate the past. It’s the time when we stop to think about our ancestors and those who are gone, and especially to remember anyone who died since the previous Samhain.