We love to celebrate in our house and there’s nothing quite like getting everyone together for food, drink, camaraderie, and merriment. Sometimes, we are merely celebrating birthdays while other times we are celebrating the changing of the seasons. There is always a reason to celebrate.
So what are some of the festivals of the year that fall in the Wiccan calendar?
Samhain – October 31st
The rest of the world might know it as “Halloween”, but to use, Samhain is a time to bring in the New Year, according to the Celtic calendar. This is a great time to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. It’s also a good time to do any remembrance rituals, pay respects to those who have gone on, and even try to receive or send messages to those who are residing in the other realm.
Traditionally, fires were lit during this time in order to help souls reach the Otherworld. Some people still make bonfires today for this festival. In addition, masks were worn to scare off evil spirits and cakes and other treats were left at crossroads for the good spirits.
Samhain could also be thought of as the end of harvest so a lot of emphasis is placed on food. Depending on where you live, you might go ahead and pick the rest of your vegetables in your garden at this time. If you live in a colder climate, of course, you may have already done this.
This is the shortest day of the year and is typically when the holiday season starts for us. (Although with little ones in the house, let’s be honest, by this point we’ve probably been decorating for weeks.) Many traditions that are used today for Christmas were started by the Druids and other groups found throughout Europe. Mistletoe, Yule logs, Christmas trees, holly and ivy, and even caroling all got their start here.
There isn’t one particular way to celebrate Yule, although there are some common denominators, such as the Yule log, that many people share. This is a good time to get together with your loved ones and spend time together. While there are many solitary rituals to choose from, this is also a fantastic time to do some group rituals that even involve children. Decorating a wreath, burning the log, and hanging up evergreen boughs are all nice ways to do things together.
Imbolc/Candlemas- February 1st
The good news is that for us, we don’t have to wait too long after the winter holidays to start celebrating again! Candlemas is a very fun festival that centers around light. Symbolically, it is known for new sprouts trying to break through the winter snow and ice. It also means “purity”, which is another way to look at light.
Some very famous items are associated with Imbolc, including Brigit and the Rowan tree- a very powerful source of energy.
Eaostre/Spring Equinox- March 21st
Eaostre was the Goddess of the dawn and of the spring. Christianity’s “Easter” is also celebrated around this time, another clue that many Christian holidays are offshoot of traditional Pagan celebrations. Easter eggs, coloring eggs, and even the Easter Bunny can all be traced back to Pagan rituals so you don’t have to give these up if you still want to use them in your celebrations.
During this festival, we celebrate new beginnings. New plants are growing, new animals are being born, and new fires are being lit. It’s a fresh and pure time of the year and hopefully the weather will start turning a little warmer.
On your altar, you might want to consider using pastel colors, lots of flowers, and other signs of spring time.
Beltane/May Eve-April 30th
This is by far one of my favorite festivals. Beltane has always been a magickal time for me and I feel a lot of power during these celebrations. And why not? It’s very nearly a celebration of sexuality and womanhood.
Beltane was traditionally known as a fertility festival. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is going to conceive on this particular holiday, but you can still celebrate without the rituals actually leading to conception.
In the old days, crosses were tied to cows’ tails so that they wouldn’t become bewitched, greenery and fruit were left at houses as decorations, and fairs were even held.
Another extremely magickal time of the year, Midsummer is always a fun festival because the weather is usually pretty good so doing rituals outside is possible. This is the longest day of the year and also the midpoint of the year.
Lammas- August 1st
Although Lammas might not be as celebrated as some of the other festivals, some people use it to celebrate the first harvest. It’s possible, however, that you’ve already had a harvest depending on where you live and when your crops come in.
Autumn Equinox- September 21st
This is the end of the witch’s year and a perfect time to celebrate your harvest. Although summer is now over, there are still things to look forward to. The leaves are changing, the weather is changing, and even attitudes change as the year draws to a close. Hopefully, there will only be good things ahead.
I hope you have an enjoyable year of festivals, however you may choose to celebrate.
Your Warm And Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”