31 Days of Paganism– Day 14

What holiday schedule do you follow?

Some people think of paganism as one religion, but really it’s more of an umbrella term for many different religions and paths. Some of those paths share a holy calendar, and others do not. I personally enjoy following the Wheel of the Year.

wheel-of-the-year

I wish I had the skills to paint this on my wall or something like that.

The Wheel of the Year has eight holidays, and they’re fairly evenly spread out over the year. So basically people who follow this Holiday calendar celebrate a holy day every six weeks. These eight can be separated into two groups– the first group being the equinoxes and solstice. Some people call these the quarter days, or the lesser Sabbats, and they split the year into fourths based on astronomical events based on the movement of the sun. You can also think of them as seasonal markers. Ostara (or Eostre, whatever floats your boat) is often celebrated on the day of the spring equinox, Litha on the summer solstice (some people call it midsummer, although some celebrate midsummer a few days later), Mabon on the autumnal equinox, and Yule on the winter solstice (also called midwinter). The equinoxes are when night and day are pretty much balanced (although not always exact, because science). The solstices, by comparison, are not days of balance but instead one of mostly day or mostly night. I’ve heard the winter solstice be called the Longest Night for this reason.

The remaining four are called the cross-quarter days, or the greater Sabbats. They are the “in-between” holy days–  the ones in between the equinoxes and solstices. Imbolc is February 2nd, Beltane May 1st, Lughnasadh August 1st, and Samhain November 1st. Some pagans mark their days from sunset to sunset (just like Jews do), which is why some people celebrate Samhain, for instance, on the evening of October 31st and continue their celebrations to sunset on the 1st of November. I like to do sunset to sunset. da738-sshot_wheel_1_lrg

So that’s the holiday calendar I follow. Not all pagans follow this calendar, and if they do they may not celebrate all the holidays equally–  they might even skip some. It’s really up to you what you want to celebrate. Not everyone connects with Imbolc or Mabon or whatever. But I appreciate the Wheel of the Year because it gives me something to look forward to every six weeks, and it keeps me connected to others who, although not with me physically, are perhaps present in an emotional/cultural/religious sense, as we celebrate on the same day, each in our own way.

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