The Celtic Sabbats
Seasonal Celtic Festivals & Sabbats There are four major Celtic festivals in the Wheel of the Celtic Year. There is literary evidence of celebrations and rituals for the cross quarters that seem to have come and gone at various points in history. I may at some point, add the four cross quarter Celtic festivals.
Samhain (Halloween) October 31 The Celtic festival of Samhain is the end of the summer or “light” half of the year. It is the last of the Celtic festivals of the harvest and dark counterpoint to Beltaine, beginning the rule of Darkness and celebrating the Crone. It is also the first day of the new year. Celts view time as circular rather than linear, so the night is both the end of the year and the beginning, an “in-between” time. For this reason, The Celtic festival of Samhain is a night of divination and of the dead.
BELTAINE - The beginning of the summer and the light half of the Celtic year. The Celtic festival of Beltaine is also called May Day and is still celebrated in western culture, although in a more secular manner. Little do many people realize that while dancing around a Maypole they’re actually celebrating an ancient Celtic Festival! Also, in the Celtic festival of Beltaine dancing went on around the bonfires and it was considered lucky to jump over the flames without injury. This Celtic festival is properly a fertility rite. The Celtic festival of Beltaine is related to the Roman Bachinalia and rites of Dionysis and many other ancient Pagan festivals and rites of fertility.
Imbolc (also Imbolg, Oimelc) Feb. 1 or 2. This Celtic festival marks the 2nd quarter of the Celtic year and the first day of Spring. While February is still very cold in most places, the Celts saw the beginnings of Spring in some of the more subtle signs of nature. This Celtic festival is strongly associated with the Irish Celtic Goddess Brighid, who is also one of the most important of Irish saints. The Celtic Goddess Brighid, as the creative force in both tribe and land, unites the two main themes of Imbolc; a reawakening of the fertility of the land and a new agricultural cycle.
Lughnasadh August 1st. This is the main harvest Celtic festival and the name of the month of August in the Irish language. It represent the culmination of the year long relationship between people and the Earth. The main theme of the Celtic festival of Lughnasadh is reaping the bounty of the land, followed by a communal feast of the first fruits. There was a recent tradition in Ireland of young people going out to playfully collect wild bilberries followed by great romps in the woods after dark (greenwood marriages, a common theme to most Celtic Festivals it seems).
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