Celebrations: Beltane

Beltane is the anglicized name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai. Continue reading

Celebrations: Ostara

The spring/vernal equinox, in Germanic traditions often called Ostara, inaugurates the new year on the Zodiacal calendar. From this point on, days are longer than the nights. Many mythologies regard this as the time of rebirth or return for vegetation gods (e.g. Attis) and celebrate the spring equinox as a time of great fertility. Continue reading

Celebrations: Imbolc

Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-molg ), also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. Christians observe it as the feast day of Saint Brigid, especially in Ireland. Continue reading

Celebrations: Yule

Yule, Yuletide, or the Winter Solstice is a religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christianised reformulation resulting in the now better known Christmastide. The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht. Continue reading

Celebrations: Samhain

Samhain (pronounced Sow-in or Sah-win) is a Gaelic festival to mark the end of the harvest and to mark the beginning of the “Darker Half” of the year, or Winter. Traditionally, the festival is celebrated from sunset on to October 31st to sunrise November 1st. It falls halfway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, and is one of four such celebrations that include Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Historically, it has been celebrated throughout Ireland, and later, the Island of Man and Scotland.  Continue reading