Wiccan and Neopagan Festivals
Wiccans and other Neopagans celebrate holidays and festivals based on nature and the changing of seasons. The Neopagan seasonal cycle, called the Wheel of the Year, consists of eight major Sabbats. The Sabbats are joyous occasions of celebration and festivity.
Like Jewish Shabbats, Neopagan Sabbats begin at sunset the day before the holiday. Four of the Sabbats, known as cross-quarter days, have Celtic origins and are called by their Celtic names. The other four mark important points on the solar calendar.
The eight Sabbats are:
- February 2 - Imbolc
- March 21 - Ostara (Spring Equinox)
- May 1 - Beltane
- June 22 - Midsummer (Summer Solstice)
- August 2 - Lughnasadh
- September 21 - Mabon (Autumn Equinox)
- November 1 - Samhain
- December 21 - Yule (Winter Solstice)
Magical work and more solemn rituals are normally done on the Esbats, which mark the phases of the moon. The most important Esbat is on the full moon, but some groups also recognize Esbats of the new moon and the two quarters.
Magical power is believed to be especially strong on the night of a full moon, which is why important rituals are undertaken on such nights.