The Sabbat Festivals

Within the Pagan community there are many holidays and Sabbats celebrated for 
various means, and not all celebrate each holiday/Sabbat in the same exact way 
or for the same reasons. The following is a general list of the Holidays most 
common between all the Sects within Neo-Paganism.

(Winter Solstice, December 20-23 (varies according to the particular date 
on the standard calendar according to when the Solstice will occur 
astronomically)). Longest night of the year, the turning point when the days 
shall afterwards grow longer as winter begins its passage into the coming 
spring. It is, in the Goddess worship, the time when she gives forth again to 
the birth of the Divine Sun child who shall be both child and eventually lover 
and father of the next child in the cycle. Winter Solstice for pagans is a time 
of feasting and the exchanging of gifts and is the original Holiday that the 
Christian religions modified into their own Christmas, even up to the birth of 
the child (Most theologians who have spent time studying the birth of Jesus 
admit he was born in either March or April, not the celebrated Christmas date we 
all know from the standard calendar - it was moved to this date to help induce 
Pagans to give up their old ways yet allow them their holidays during the spread 
of Christianity thru Europe and the British Isles). Traditional adornments are a 
Yule Log, usually of oak, and a combination of mistletoe and holly (also all 
later plagiarized into Christian ways).

(Brigid's Day, February 2nd) Not common to all pagans, this is very 
popular with Wiccans and various Celtic sects. Brigid is the Celtic goddess of 
fire and inspiration (Poetry, smithcraft and healing) as well as yet another 
representation of the Fertility of Femininity and Love.  Brigid had such a 
strong following among the Celtics that the Christian church decided it was 
easier to assimilate her into their own system, and so there came about the 
making of Saint Brigit and all the stories they created about her so that her 
followers would leave their old beliefs enough so they would not side with the 
Druids, who were known at that time as 'the snakes' because of their tendency to 
have tamed snakes that were used to help produce various healing mixtures via 
their venom, and who were violently opposing the Catholic church. In History, of 
course, the druids lost against the overwhelming odds presented by the church, 
led by a man who would then be himself sainted by the church, their Saint 
Patrick (who was no clergyman but a warrior). Thus Christian rule of various 
sorts came into Ireland. Handcrafts are often sacrificed to Brigid or dedicated 
to her as they are started on this day. Its celebration is done with many 
candles and as usual much feasting. The Christians also took, moved slightly and 
used this date by creating St. Valentine and using the day for one of chaste 
love reflections.

Ritual (Spring Equinox, March 20-23 dependent on actual astronomical 
event) This is the start in the pagan year of spring, at least among Wiccans and 
Celtics. The first flowers are praised and the Gods and Goddesses thanked for 
the true return to happier times for all. EOstara is one of the more colourful 
holidays, not one of the sombre colours found in Yule and Candlemas. Feasting and 
socializing are the important factors in this holiday as well as the celebration 
of the return of colour to the natural world. In the Christian calendar, again to 
draw early worshipers, they marked this as the final days and rebirth of Jesus 
(when according to history he died in June!)

(May Eve, April 30th-May 1st) Most important to pagans, save for 
Samhain, I don't know of any Pagan group that doesn't celebrate this holiday in 
some way.  Beltane is the great Fertility rite of life, starting at dusk on the 
30th and continuing until the dawn of the 1st. The union of the God and Goddess 
to conceive the sun-child to be takes place upon this holiday, no matter which 
tradition of paganism is involved. Beltane is the one holiday most discouraged 
by the Christians, who didn't even use it as a point for a holiday of their own 
because the power and nature of the day involved. Still, even in Christianized 
Ireland the May day dance of the Maypole remained, as did the giving of flowers 
to those you loved or cared for as friends. The Maypole is a symbol of the union 
of the God and Goddess to create life, the pole itself a phallic symbol while 
the dancers and their streamers or vines of flowers represent the fertile womb 
of the goddess as it takes in the Phallus of the god and takes in his seed. 
Besides the Maypole often a bonfire is present, and members of the group are 
encouraged to jump the flames for luck and their own fertility. Food, drink and 
love are the order of the evening. In most sects the celebration of Beltane will 
become one large orgy as the participants are encouraged to enact their own 
unions of love. Beltane is the time of many marriages/ and fasting's in the pagan 
community (in some it is the point where one chooses to begin and end 
relationships of a physical nature). Clothing is very optional in most get 
togethers on this holiday, and mostly it is sensual and colourful. Even those 
sects that are prudish about things tend to accept the rules of the holiday, as 
it is the holiday of free love. It is said that a child conceived on this day 
will grow up to wield great power and knowledge and to be healthier than upon 
any other.

(Summer Solstice, June 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event) Held 
on the longest day of the year, the Solstice is the celebration of lights 
triumph over darkness and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into 
life. Flowers are common in the circle, roses and bright cheerful wildflowers 
are upon the altar and usually worn by all. It is the changing point of the 
year, and the celebration of the spiral dance of the year is common among 
Wiccans. It a celebration with much joy, and much feasting. Many wiccans will 
attire themselves in bright colours and equally bright adornments of flowers. 
Litha' usual food fare may include honey cakes or cornbread. Litha is not 
celebrated by all sects nor in the same way.       
(August 1st) The great corn ritual of Wiccan belief (in Celtic realms 
this is the celebration of the wheat god, corn is an Americanization and it is 
possible there is an American Indian traditional holiday near this date that was 
borrowed by the American Neopagans). This is the big celebration of the harvest 
(Sort of a Pagan Thanksgiving, but the time clock is different as is that of the 
Celtics). Much feasting and dancing occur, thou it is a bit more sombre than 
many of the other holidays.  Some Pagans celebrate this day as merely the day to 
bake their bread and cakes for the coming winter and do no actual rituals save 
that of blessing the foods prepared. 

(Autumn Equinox, Sept. 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event) A 
lesser holiday, this is not widely celebrated and is most come with pure wiccan 
groups, especially those who are based in the works of Starhawk and other Dianic 
sects. This is the weavers festival, and a braiding of cords are done in the 
process of casting a spell to add to ones life from what it is, each person 
weaving unto themselves what they wish and the coven as a whole weaving all the 
cords together to unite the power and efforts symbolically.

 (Halloween Oct 31st) The year ends traditionally in Wiccan beliefs with 
this holiday. Samhain is said to be the period of time when the gates between 
the worlds are least guarded and the veils their thinnest. It is a time for 
dimensional openings and workings, and also the celebration of the death of the 
year king. It is a sombre holiday, one of dark clothes and thoughts for the 
dead, it is said to be the time when those of necromantic talents can speak with 
the dead and it is certainly a time to remember ones dead. It is a time of 
endings of relationships and bad situations and it is the time when one can see 
the glimmer of hope in the future. There are as many concepts attached to this 
holiday as any other.


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