Updated date:

Wiccan Holidays and Ritual Days Explained!

As each season comes and goes, the wheel of the year turns. A wheel is a wheel, there is no true end or beginning, it simply is and revolves upon it's axis endlessly. So it is with the festivals in the Wiccan faith, that each year Wiccans celebrate the seasons as they change, the coming of light and the height of the harvest, the dark days when the veil is thin. These days are steeped in ritual, deeply magical, and each holds it's own meaning to those of the Pagan religions.

Each holiday has it's own celebratory events, many of which occur after the customary sanctuary of the circle is called forth. The cardinal directions and their elements are summoned, the Watchtowers are invoked in ritual magic, and from there the seasonal celebrations commence. Once the celebrations wind down, the quarters are thanked and released, the Watchtowers acknowledged and everyone is free to go in perfect love and perfect peace.

Lammas/Lughnasad

Celebrated on August 1, Lammas is the time of waning. The Sun God's power is fading in preparation for his rebirth at Yule. Lammas is the first harvest festival, and it is at this festival that corn is enjoyed as the first of the harvest's fruits.

Summer has passed, and Lammas is a recognition of the coming winter, and is celebrated with bonfires merriment. Lammas is a time for reflection, as the slumber of winter approaches when the earth rests in wait for the rebirth of the Sun God.

Some plants and items associated with Lammas are:

  • corn dolls
  • ash
  • juniper
  • wheat
  • citrine
  • apples
  • elderberry wine

Midsummer/Litha

The Summer Solstice is celebrated on or around June 21st. It is a celebration of the longest period of light, and in most circles is devoted to worship of the God in his strength, and the Goddess in her glow as She is pregnant, having transitioned into the Mother.

The central focus of the Litha ritual is the continuation of Beltane's focus on fertility, strength and love. Litha is also the time of dedication and rededication, so for those new to Wicca this is the time to arrange pledging yourself to service and worship of the Lord and Lady.

Some plants and items associated with Midsummer are:

  • Yellow and gold ribbons
  • blades
  • summer flowers
  • emerald or jade
  • oak
  • chamomile

Samhain/Samhuinn

October 31st is the day of Samhain, when the veil between the between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest. At Samhain, Wiccans lay down their grief at the loss of loved ones and send their respects.

Samhain is the Last Harvest, the Feast of the Dead. While the rest of the world celebrates Halloween, Wiccans focus on the lessons learned in the year to this point. Samhain is regarded as the Wiccan 'New Year,' as both real and spiritual harvests are complete with the coming of this holiday.

Some plants and items associated with Samhain are:

  • gourds
  • apples
  • mugwort
  • oak leaves
  • straw
  • obsidian

Mabon/Autumnal Equinox

Mabon is celebrated on or around September 21st, and is a holiday devoted to the giving of thanks. Mabon is the second harvest festival, and it is here that the revelry of the harvest grows. Mabon is the time of balance, and is sometimes called the Feast of Avalon.

The Last Harvest approaches, the Goddess is heavy with child and thusly Mabon holds a great deal of celebration and reverence to the God and Goddess for the prosperity and challenges of the year.

Some plants and items associated with Mabon are:

  • wine
  • acorns
  • pomegranates
  • myrrh
  • sapphires

Yule/Midwinter

Yule is celebrated on or around December 21st. Yule is the time of the dead of winter, when the Sun God is reborn to the Mother Goddess, who then becomes the Crone and retreats into her slumber. It is said that this slumber is the reason for the darkest and coldest days of Winter.

Yule is a celebration of the longest night, each night from here will grow shorter until Midsummer. A Yule log is burned during this festival, typically a log of ash wood, to bring warmth to our hearts and remind us of the blessed fires of summer.

Some plants and items associated with Yule are:

  • evergreen boughs
  • mistletoe
  • pointsetta
  • rubies
  • blessed thistle

Imbolc/Brigid's Day

Celebrated on February 1st, Imbolc is the time of returning light, a day dedicated to fire and renewal. The Goddess wakes from her long slumber at Imbolc, rising and shaking off the dry leaves and snow of the winter season to emerge young and revitalized as the Maiden.

During Imbolc, or Brigid's Day as it is also called, is a time of purification. This holiday's rituals focus on rebirth, reaffirmation and renewal. Corn dollies are common in this festival also, as are bonfires.

Some plants and items associated with Imbolc are:

  • basil
  • violets
  • raisins
  • cinnamon
  • amethyst

Beltaine/May Day

Beltaine is celebrated on May 1st, and is the festival of love and fertility. The God and Goddess lay with one another, and the Goddess, budding with pregnancy, blesses the land with her fertility.

During Beltaine, a dance is held around the may pole, in which revelers dance and draw in the love and energy of their intricate dance to decorate the pole with twists of brightly colored ribbon.

Some plants and items associated with Beltaine are:

  • honeysuckle
  • rose
  • beads
  • lilac
  • strawberry

Ostara/Vernal Equinox

Celebrated on or around March 21st, Ostara is a time of balance between day and night. It is on this night that the Sun God and Maiden Goddess marry, and this union conceives to them a child who will be born at Yule.

Festivities during Ostara focus on new growth, planting and planning. The thrill of life lightens our hearts during Ostara. This holiday is the beginning of the fertile time, for our bodies, hearts, spirits and the land around us.

Some plants and items associated with Ostara are:

  • daffodils
  • peony
  • jasmine
  • seeds
  • jasper

Esbat

While the above covers the Sabbats, sometimes called High Days, these are by no means the only days of importance in Wiccan practice. Many varieties of Wiccans exist, and so there may be specialized holidays for a particular flavor of Wicca that is not listed here. It is safe to say, however, that in terms of ritual practice and/or timing related celebration, the phase of the moon plays a vital part in Wiccan religion.

Full - On the full moon, rites and magic involving protection, abundance, or sexuality are more prevalent, and thought to be more powerful.

Waning - The waning moon (when the silver of the moon is on the left) is the time for release, cleansing, and reversal of bindings.

New - When the moon is barely seen in the sky, this is the time for magic involving new beginnings and new focus.

Waxing - During the waxing moon (when the dark part of the moon is on the left) the focus is on growth and goals.

Rituals and magic done with a focus on these phases is often referred to as an Esbat, and considered minor holidays in the Wiccan community. It is far more common to see a full moon celebration and circle than other phases, as the full moon brings a broader common purpose to the ritual whereas the other moon phases incite more personal requirements.

What is your favorite Wiccan Holiday?

Miyami on November 26, 2011:

Iam 15 and have been a Christian for all these years but ihave decided to convert but im not sure how without mii parents finding out (iwould get kicked out). Ihave a Wicca friend but he's very far away so can iget so help??

Blessed be!

Gerard on October 31, 2011:

I have felt the pull on my spirit and soul, yet I have not been found by anyone wicked. If we are indeed this

sensative then where is everyone, or am I alone..........

it's all about getting along, not the darkness that many

associate us with. show yourself my lady

Lillian K. Staats from Wasilla, Alaska on October 28, 2011:

My favorite is midsummer, was Mom's as well. I suppose we followed the equinoxes a bit more stringently than others, and mom would book her poetry and music readings for the summer solstice... thanks for a fine hub! lily

Pela on October 06, 2011:

I love this web site u really helped me

deblipp on March 22, 2011:

Very nice article. There are a lot of variations on this, of course, but you realize that. Llewellyn has a nice series of books, one for each holiday, which people will really enjoy.

melica olofsson on February 01, 2011:

can someone who have done the litha ritual explain to me how to do it?? please :)

Luna on January 12, 2011:

This site is so cool!!!! My boyfriend and i are new 2 wicca and i wasnt quite sure how 2 celebrate all the holidays so thanks.Wicca has helpped my life sooo much, the only problem is all the bad rep we wiccans get, say it with me people: NOT SATANIC WOSHIP!!!!!!!

Ur Anaite from The Land of the Dead on December 14, 2010:

The only trouble is that many people who I have met at witches moots and through various circles don't realise that the wheel of the year as shown is within a wiccan context.

Then the practice become international, while some are intelligent enough to turn the dates of the wheel to match their countries hemisphere it still doesn't match. In North QLD Australia the four seasons are not represented at all. Traditionally it has 6 seasons, one of which is the monsoon time.

Its well and good to follow the guidelines of chosen religion, I only comment to ensure that the following is not blind. You can be a Wiccan and celebrate different festivals, ones that coincide with your habitat.

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on December 13, 2010:

@Ur Anaite: Given Wicca's newness as a religion, it only makes sense that the Wiccan "Wheel of the Year" is new-ish itself. :) As to how hard life was in the pre-industrial era versus the celebrations and such, I'm sure that the people worked as hard as they played during times of even scant abundance.

Ur Anaite from The Land of the Dead on December 13, 2010:

It's important to remember that the wheel of the year is a recent Wiccan additon to witchcraft and has very little to do with traditional ancient english celebrations.

Think of a small village full of people who work hard all day to feed each other. The witch worked just as hard during the day as everyone else, witchcraft was delegated to the night.

In autumn all food which wouldn't keep were eaten. Midwinter (on the coldest night longest night) fires were lit to warm and kindle hope that the starving and dieing from cold is near and end, and then once the bodies started to smell they would be a mass burial.

All these celebrations in the wheel of the year, not a very realistic view on how hard life was pre industrial era.

xMystx on December 09, 2010:

This was super helpful, thanks! I'm a catholic girl who was brought up around people who... aren't very imaginative. I'm 14 and have been studying Wicca for a while now (according to my parents only to write a fiction story on it) and everything I read about makes me feel so much more connected to it. There are no other wiccans in my small town so I'm doing it alone but I still want to start celebrating and acting like an offical wiccan. This is really helping me get to it. Thanks again =)Blessed be!

a person on November 22, 2010:

i'm a cathlic but i am very interested in wicca so this helped a lot thank you!

Taalis Maanticci on November 20, 2010:

thank you so vary much gamergirl for helping spread wicca and information about it. i am a wiccan myself ex high priest of a rather small coven. I must say you are vary informed love the hub.

Jester on November 09, 2010:

Thanks for the help im newly turning wiccan and i need all the help i can get to get on track with everything thanks alot.

Max on October 21, 2010:

Cool! My mom (and i guess me too) is Wiccan. i'm 17 and i just realizd my mom is wiccan 1year ago.

Valkyrie on October 19, 2010:

Hi Emily h. I am 14 too and want to become Wiccan. What are you going to do? Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again. ??

emily h. on October 14, 2010:

i'm new to the wiccan religion, and am seriously consitering converting because this makes a lot of sense to me. i'm only 14 though,will this complicate anything, or hinder joining covens??? I found this site very helpful. :)

Amber landeros on October 07, 2010:

Im really into wicca even tho im new at it i find it really interesting and amazing people judge me for this but i dont care im 16 years old and im lovin wicca

Chuck RitenouR from Front Royal, Virginia on October 01, 2010:

I loved this hub. Blessed Be.

Kate on August 19, 2010:

i've been a Wiccan for awhile now and found your internet page interesting. you've convinced alot of people on here to become wiccans, and hopefully they stick to it.

Sa`ge from Barefoot Island on August 02, 2010:

Great hub thanks for all the work and sharing it all!

~aloha~

cierrah on June 12, 2010:

wicca is amazing, it relates to me so much, i cant believe im just discovering this now. i am a new wicca fan, and i already almost understand your ways.

blessed be!

gothgirl$#@! on May 18, 2010:

thank you! i've decided to become wiccan, but i didnt know hardly any of the holidays. this really helped. ty ty ty

BLESSED BE!

nathan on April 30, 2010:

wicca is an interesting thing. a lot of people i know have never heard of it. i wanted to explain more about it but i couldnt find the words to do it but now that i found this site i can teach them more about the religion and maybe theyll join me in the religion

r3dh3ad from County Kildare, Ireland on April 21, 2010:

This is such a great summary - thanks so much. Beautifully done!

Raine on April 18, 2010:

Thankyou so much for sharing this information! I'm new to the wiccan religion, and this really helps. Blessed be!

pcgeekchick on February 18, 2010:

I've been in Wicca for over 10 years and my oldest is now joining me in the practice. I will be sharing this website with her so that she can have it in simplier terms instead of her reading a book and getting confused. Thank you so much!

dizz on January 04, 2010:

i only just got into wicca, and im loving it. it feels so right but everyone around me is agenst it. i feel so by my self and not shore if im doing this all right. im welcoming all the help i can get... merry meat, merry part and merry meat again

Thay on December 25, 2009:

This is undoubtedly going to help. Blessed be, everyone.

Etho from United Kingdom on November 25, 2009:

im glad i found this hub, i recently decided to become part of the wiccan community and this has interested me even more. Thank you for making me decided the path to choose, greatly appreciate all this great information

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on November 08, 2009:

Hi Charm! Try reading this book: http://is.gd/4QpfU

Charm on November 08, 2009:

im new to wicca but i have always been interested and fascinated by it. the only thing is im catholic...im not sure what to do though because im really into wicca but aparetly being catholic means you cant be wiccan or something?im so confussed someone plllllease explain! but yea totally awsome site! x

Zan on August 23, 2009:

I find myself in a time of emotional pain re-visiting Wicca. I feel better already as I have felt disconnected spirtually for a while. My breath is smoother, and I find I am setting plans for a fire in back tonight. I will look up and around to find the moon. Note. It was very nice to find this site so readily and not have flashing strobs of advertisement. This is good. I feel better, like coming home.

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on July 26, 2009:

Charmed is not Wiccan in nature. It did help to put a more positive spin on those who practice various forms of witchcraft, but they do not practice Wicca.

Ella on July 26, 2009:

I am new to all things Wicca, but i have found something which helps me to understand some of the rituals and belives about wicca. It is a TV show called charmed, have you heard of it? If not it might be usefull to check it out.

PJ_Deneen on July 25, 2009:

Hello gamergirl! I can't believe I haven't found you here before. Thanks so much for linking to my hub on Wicca. Thank you for adding a quality piece of work to the Pagan articles here at HubPages. I look forward to reading more of your work.

UknownName on April 13, 2009:

I just started getting into wicca. I find it extreamily interesting i want to learn more so badly....I'm trying to leanr as much as i can from sites like this but i really would like to learn more and really get into wicca.

Shadesbreath from California on September 22, 2008:

Very, very interesting, I like how you presented it a lot, and you get a bug thumbs up from me. This is the epitome of the "informative hub," well written and a joy to read. Thanks.

(I was born on the first day of Yule. I think that must be a propitious day to arrive :)

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on September 22, 2008:

Happy Mabon to my readers!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 08, 2008:

Fascinating! I can see why this was chosen as a finalist! I find myself wanting to learn more!

MarloByDesign from United States on March 08, 2008:

Wow, you learn something new everyday! Cool hub.