Category:The Wheel of the Year

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The Pagan Wheel of the Year, encompassing the eight major seasonal festivals

The Wheel of the Year is a system of marking eight calendar-points, derived from the Solar calendar, for special festivals and commemorative rituals within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan Tradition, especially among those groups which descend from or are reviving Celtic, Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon, or Germanic religious practices of the past. Some contemporary Pagan and Neo-Pagan groups call the eight seasonal festivals Sabbats; others do not use that term.

The concept of a Wheel of the Year, in which eight seasonal festivals are placed equidistantly throughout the year, was unknown in older Pagan religions, and actually originated in the modern Wiccan religion. Despite its relatively recent development, the Wheel of The Year system of marking eight holidays has found wide acceptance among a variety of non-Wiccan Modern Pagan and Neo-Pagan groups.

Four of the eight holidays are loosely based on or named after ancient Germanic festivals and fall on the solstices and equinoxes; these are known as the Quarter Days or the Lesser Sabbats. The other four holidays are similarly inspired by ancient Gaelic fire festivals and fall approximately midway between the solstices and equinoxes; they are commonly known as the Cross-Quarter Days, the Fire Festivals, or the Greater Sabbats.

Contemporary interpretations and observations of these ancient Germanic and Gaelic holidays vary a great deal from region to region and also within different Pagan and Neo-Pagan groups. Some may emphasize the historical nature of the festivals, while others celebrate them according to recently-created concepts.

Festival name Date Sun's position
North South North South
Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe'en, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Last Harvest, Root Harvest, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, Nos Galan Gaeaf 31 Oct – 2 Nov
(alt 5–10 Nov)
1 May
(alt 4–10 May)
≈ 15° Scorpio ≈ 15° Taurus
Yule, Midwinter, Cuidle, Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, Winter Rite, Mothers Night, Gŵyl Galan Gaeaf 19–23 Dec
(winter solstice)
19–23 June
(winter solstice)
0° Capricorn 0° Cancer
Imbolc, Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid's Day, Bride's Day, Brigantia, Gŵyl y Canhwyllau 1–2 Feb
(alt 2–7 Feb)
1–2 Aug
(alt 3–10 Aug)
≈ 15° Aquarius ≈ 15° Leo
Ostara, Easter, Vernal Equinox, Lady Day, Earrach, Alban Eilir, Festival of Trees, Gŵyl Ganol y Gwanwyn 19–23 Mar
(spring equinox)
19–23 Sept
(spring equinox)
0° Aries 0° Libra
Beltane, Beltaine, May Day, Gŵyl Calan Mai 1 May
(alt 4–10 May)
31 Oct – 2 Nov
(alt 5–10 Nov)
≈ 15° Taurus ≈ 15° Scorpio
Litha, Midsummer, Samradh, Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf 19–23 June
(summer solstice)
19–23 Dec
(summer solstice)
0° Cancer 0° Capricorn
Lammas, Loafmass, Lughnasadh, First Harvest, Bread Harvest, Grain Harvest, Festival of First Fruits, Gŵyl Galan Awst 1–2 Aug
(alt 3–10 Aug)
1–2 Feb
(alt 2–7 Feb)
≈ 15° Leo ≈ 15° Aquarius
Mabon, Autumnal Equinox, Foghar, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, Wine Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Gŵyl Ganol yr Hydref 20–24 Sept
(autumn equinox)
20–23 Mar
(autumn equinox)
0° Libra 0° Aries

In addition to the eight festivals marked on the Wheel of the Year, there are other ancient Pagan festivals which either did not originally fall on one of these eight dates or which have been displaced to other dates as a result of the conflation of European Pagan and Christian traditions.

One such "displaced" festival is Krampusnacht (Krampus' Night), an Austrian, Czech, and German Winter festival. It is unknown at this late date whether the pre-Christian Pagan festival of Krampus, also known regionally as Cert, originally fell at Yule-Time or not; some assume that it did. In any case, it long ago became mingled with the veneration of the Catholic Saint Nicholas on December 5 - 6, about half a month before the Winter Solstice, which is marked on the Wheel of the Year as the Pagan and Neo-Pagan festival of Yule.

Another "displaced" festival is Thanksgiving. The term refers to any one of a series of festivals celebrated according to the local timing of important regional harvests. Three of the festivals on the Wheel of the Year are harvest or Thanksgiving festivals -- Lammas (August 1 - 2, the grain harvest), Mabon (September 20 - 24, the wine harvest), and Samhain (October 31 - November 2, the root-crop harvest). To further complicate the matter, local customs and laws have decreed that in Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October, between Mabon and Samhain, while in the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the third Thursday of November, between Samhain and Yule, long after the last harvests have actually been brought in.

The eight major Solar festivals or Sabbats are also distinct from the Wiccan Esbats, which are additional, usually smaller, celebrations or coven meetings that are held according to the Lunar calendar, on Full Moons or New Moon dates.

See Also

Pages in category "The Wheel of the Year"

The following 8 pages are in this category, out of 8 total.

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