Wheel of the Year
To practice any religion you must know what the most sacred times to practice are. Well, in the religion of Wicca you will find that the Holy days are called Sabbats. Just what is a Sabbat? Today Sabbats are religious festivals or holy days for the religion of Wicca. Many Neo-Pagans also celebrate Sabbats. What you need to know is that Witchcraft did not actually have Sabbats per say. It was actually Gerald Gardner that brought the concept of incorporating Eight Sabbats into the beautiful religion he created of Wicca. Also to confuse you a bit more, the Sabbats of modern Wicca and Neo-Paganism are based on or near old Pagan days of celebration.
Remember, Witchcraft and Wicca are NOT one and the same. In ancient times, these special holidays did not necessarily have names, nor were they called Sabbats, but there were days – special times and festivals every year. Different regions and geographical locations probably had their own specific days. Some festivals or celebrations may have even lasted into our modern times, but the names and actual days may be different from ancient times. Old Pagans and Witches did however often celebrate festival days that were very closely linked to the seasons, times of harvest, the ebb and flow of life itself. What you should realize is that there are many countries and areas that only had two seasons, summer and winter, no real fall or spring.
It is thought that Sabbats were Celtic festivals; again, they were not called Sabbats long ago. However this cannot be true for there are eight Sabbats today according to the teachings of Gerald Gardner and the Ancient Celts did not celebrate the four seasons. They did however celebrate four Celtic festivals in pre-Christian times, the spring and fall equinoxes and summer and winter, only four holidays, not eight. And these were most often not just one day affairs, but over many days and nights of celebrating.
The Revivalist, or Romantic Druids, the Druidic Re-constructionists, whatever you may wish to call them, seem to be the ones that incorporated ritual observances of the two solstices along with the equinox’s thus creating the eight Sabbat calendar. It is also thought that the Britons, who preceded the ancient Celts, did celebrate the equinoxes and solstices. So, the days that are celebrated with the Wheel of the Year in our modern times, do seem to have honest roots in days of old, but much has been added and left out and personalized when it comes to these eight religious days.
Depending on your previous religion or background, you may discover that Wiccan Sabbats seem to mirror many Christian holy days as well. In my book, I cover that when Christianity started to spread it’s political and religious wings, that it found it was easier to incorporate the old Pagan holidays into the practice of Christianity, thus drawing many of the Pagan followers into the Christian faith and strengthening the Christian numbers. Pretty smart of the Christians… build on Pagan holy grounds and make their holidays close to the Pagan holy days!
What follows is a list of Wiccan holy days… one thing I notice is that many books and websites do not distinguish between NORTHERN and SOUTHERN Hemispheres… you would not celebrate a Winter Solstice when it is summer, and honestly, the northern and southern hemispheres do not have the same seasons at the same times! So you will notice I put a list of Northern and Southern hemisphere Sabbats.
Samhain - Oct. 31
Yule - Dec. 21/22
Imbolc - Feb. 2
Ostara/Spring Equinox - Mar. 21/22
Beltane - Apr. 30/May 1
Litha/Summer Solstice - June 21/22
Lughnasadh/Lammas - Jul. 31/Aug. 1
Mabon/Authom Equinox - Sept. 21/22
Samhain – April 30th/May 1st
Yule – June 21st
Imbolc – August 1st
Ostara – September 21st/22nd
Beltane – Oct 31st/Nov 1st
Lithia – Dec 21st/22nd
Lammas – Feb 1st/2nd
Mabon – March 21st
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