8 Pagan Holidays & Traditions
With Winter Solstice fast approaching, we’re exploring the eight pagan holidays underpinning the cycles of the seasons.
Perhaps you’ve heard of our seasonal Solstices and Equinoxes. Maybe you’re even familiar with their midway celebrations. But do you know the rich history and traditions of the influential Wheel of the Year? The Wheel of the Year is made up of eight pagan holidays – or Sabbats – that each honour the changing seasons and cycle of life for followers of paganism and Wicca.
These pagan holidays are each inspired by folklore, magic and history, playing an important role in the lives of people around the world. They sit on an ever-turning wheel; no beginning or end.
Learn more about the traditional eight pagan holidays with our very special guide.
Winter Solstice: December 21
“The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time – a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to take a fresh start. A time to awaken.” ~ Frederick Lenz
Also known as Yule, the Winter Solstice is a time of renewal and regeneration. This pagan holiday celebrates new beginnings and is best spent with loved ones.
It refers to the longest night of the year; after Winter Solstice, light returns to our lives as the days start increasing in length. For that reason, it is the perfect time for fresh starts and resolutions.
Many will attend festivals and events worldwide in celebration (including at our very own Stonehenge), while others will enjoy a more intimate experience burning the Yule log with family and friends.
Imbolc: early February
The pagan holiday of Imbolc is the reminder that spring is on its way. With spring comes purification and the first signs of life following a cold, frosty winter.
In Imbolc, we look to the Celtic goddess Brighid; we focus on her femininity and rebirth. This is a good season to focus on your creative energy; midwinter dreams all of a sudden become a reality.
It is also the time for cleansing and healing, with many using this as an opportunity to clean their home and reconnect with spiritual guides.
Spring Equinox: around March 21
“The festival of the spring equinox speaks of freshness and youth, of excitement and endless possibilities. Nature begins to quicken and early flowers open to the warmth of the strengthening sun, bringing the colours of lemon and yellow into our lives on the wings of a March wind.” ~ Carole Carlton
Warmer, longer days are coming. New life is abundant. The natural world flourishes and joy is in the air.
There’s a lot to love about Spring Equinox: the midpoint of the year, it is the season of fertility and the prime point to drive forward desires and have breakthroughs with projects and goals.
Of the pagan holidays, this one has seen a major crossover in modern society. Easter harvests, seed planting, chocolate extravaganzas and spring cleans all hold a prominent place during this Sabbat.
Beltane: May 1
Once the April showers have fallen and nature is at its richest, we find ourselves in the pagan holiday of Beltane.
Beltane is the last of the three fertility festivals and has a slightly scandalous history. It pays homage to the Maiden Goddess taking a lover in the form of a young God and is, therefore, a sexual festival.
Although these days, sexual rites are rare in modern celebrations, the season remains an occasion of sensuality. It’s a popular period for proposals and marriage vow renewals, fuelled by a fiery, romantic energy.
Summer Solstice: June 21
“At the Summer Solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness.” ~ Gary Zukav
As the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice is the time to get outdoors and revel in the splendour of the sun. With crops growing fully and healthily, many celebrate by reconnecting with nature and brightening the sky with bonfires and torchlight.
This pagan holiday is one of joy: it’s full of feasts, vigils and celebrations. Frequently called “Midsummer”, it is the Sabbat that marks the welcome return of picnics, festivals, brighter evenings and lazy days.
Lammas: early August
The pagan holiday Lammas is when we reflect; we are still enjoying the brightness of summer, but we know Autumn – and the harvest – is approaching.
Traditionally, the focus on this pagan holiday is on early Harvest and recognising the abundance of what is to come. It is perhaps one of the most potent transitional periods, and a perfect opportunity to give thanks, slow down and reap what has been sown in the months previous.
Autumn Equinox: September 21
“The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” ~ John Muir
The contemplative nature we have explored in the previous pagan season comes to fruition in Autumn Equinox. The harvest is winding down. Winter is approaching. And so we gather together to express our gratitude and feast upon the earth’s offering.
It is the point at which we celebrate the hard work that has happened throughout the harvest and slow down, ready for the coming seasons.
Samhain: October 31
Many will know this pagan holiday under a different name: Halloween!
Pagans view Samhain as the Sabbat where the line between the living and the dead is at its weakest. It is often seen as the time to make contact with the dead, reconnecting with loved ones and bringing together the earthly and spirit realm.
And back to the beginning we go!
Visit our ‘events’ section to discover any pagan celebrations happening in the Hampshire & Dorset area.
We have another blog that you may like to read. It is all about Angel numbers, which are sequences of numbers that you may keep seeing.
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