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  • Wiccan Holidays or Sabbats
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General Interest

WICCAN HOLIDAYS

There are eight annual Wiccan Sabbats, or holidays. We're providing them here for those of you looking into the Wiccan religion and for those of you with Wiccan friends. It's always nice to surprise a friend with a thoughful gift on holidays. But, you need to know the holidays! The following is not written by us. We did not want to impart any inaccurate facts, and we wanted to provide more than our expertise allows, so we've extracted the information from Wikipedia. We hope you find it helpful!

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Imbolc
February 2

Wiccans celebrate a variation of Imbolc as one of four "fire festivals", which make up half of the eight holidays (or "sabbats"), of the wheel of the year. Imbolc is defined as a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara). The precise astrological midpoint in the Northern hemisphere is when the sun reaches fifteen degrees of Aquarius. In the Southern hemisphere, if celebrated as the beginning of Spring, the date is the midpoint of Leo. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc (also known as "Candlemas") is the traditional time for initiations. Among Reclaiming-style Wiccans, Imbolc is considered a traditional time for rededication and pledges for the coming year.


Festival of Ostara (Spring Equinox)
March 21, approximately

Ostara is one of the eight major Wiccan holidays or sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. Ostara is celebrated on the vernal equinox, in the Northern hemisphere around March 21 and in the Southern hemisphere around September 23, depending upon the specific timing of the equinox. Among the Wiccan sabbats, it is preceded by Imbolc and followed by Beltane. The Festival of Ostara at the spring equinox marks the end of winter and the beginning of the season of rebirth (spring), and is celebrated by a blot in honor of Frigg and Freya and/or the disir, the collective of female fertility deities. The "blot" is a celebratory meal (also known as "cakes and ale") that is believed to be shared with the the God/Godess. Wiccans use the term "Cakes and Ale" rather than blots, which is what Heathens and other Norse or Anglo Saxon religions do.


Beltane (May Day)
May 1

Wiccans and Wiccan-inspired Neopagans celebrate a variation of Beltane as a sabbat, one of the eight solar holidays. Although the holiday may use features of the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). Some Wiccans celebrate 'High Beltane' by enacting a ritual union of the May Lord and Lady. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Beltane is a cross-quarter day; it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on May 1 and in the southern hemisphere on November 1. Beltane follows Ostara and precedes Midsummer.


Litha (Midsummer or Summer Solstice)
June 21, approximately

Litha is one of the eight solar holidays or sabbats observed by Wiccans, though the New Forest traditions (those referred to as British Traditional Wicca) tend to use the traditional name Midsummer. It is celebrated on the Summer Solstice, or close to it. The holiday is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas.


Lammas (Lughnasadh)
August 1

This festival is also known as Lughnasadh, a feast to commemorate the funeral games (Tailtean Games) of Tailtiu, foster-mother of the Irish sun-god Lugh. Lammas is a cross-quarter day occurring 1/4 of a year after Beltane. It is one of the harvest festivals, involving grains and breads, and can include symbolic sacrifices to ensure a good crop.


Mabon (Autumnal Equinox)
September 21, approximately

Mabon is the name for the holiday/sabbat celebrated on the Autumnal Equinox. In the northern hemisphere it occurs on September 23rd (occasionally the 22nd, although many celebrate on the 21st) and in the southern hemisphere it occurs around March 21. Also called Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, or simply Autumn Equinox, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months. The name may derive from Mabon ap Modron, although the connection is unclear. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas and followed by Samhain.


Samhain (All Hallows)
October 31

Samhain is one of the eight annual holidays, often referred to as 'Sabbats', observed as part of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is considered by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four 'greater Sabbats'. It is generally observed on October 31 in the Northern Hemisphere. Samhain is considered by most Wiccans as a celebration of death and of the dead, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness and death, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of life and fertility.


Yule (Winter Solstice)
December 21, approximately

In general, many Wiccan based sects favor a plethora of sources on winter solstice holidays to recreate a type of "Yule" holiday. While the name "Yule" is used, it is not an absolute reconstruction of the original holiday. Wreaths, Yule logs, decoration of trees, decorating with mistletoe, holly, and ivy, exchanges of presents, and even wassailing are incorporated and regarded as sacred. The return of the Sun as Frey is commemorated in some groups. However, due to the eclectic nature of modern Wicca, many solstice narratives from outside mythologies are incorporated or even substituted. In some Wiccan sects the holiday is observed in a manner that commemorates the death of the Holly King identified with the wren bird (symbolizing the old year and the shortened sun) at the hands of his son and successor, the robin redbreast Oak King (the new year and the new sun that begins to grow). In most Wiccan sects, this holiday is also celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun.

Source: Wikipedia (July 1, 2007)