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Our Holidays

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.