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Trail: Celtic Holidays

Celtic Holidays

Research

Samhain


(sow-een or sow’-inn)
Traditional date: October 31 to November 1
Actual astrological date: Nov 6 in 2006 and 2007
Midpoint between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice
The largest and most important festival, great tribal gatherings
The beginning of the dark half of the year, exact opposite day of Beltrane
First Celtic fire festival (male)
Gaelic “samhraidhreadh” means “summer’s end”
Irish “Samhain” means the month of November
Celtic New Year’s Eve
Third and final harvest festival
The day when day (light) does not exist
Preparation to survive the winter, confront the possibility of death was paramount
The “Fleadh nan Mairbh” Feast of the Dead to honour the past clan souls
Celebrates the last harvest, the cycle of life and spirits passed
Ceremonies involve fire, lights, setting out food and gifts for passing spirits
All fires are extinquished and relit from the sacred bonfire
Stories are told around the fires as there is not much to do outside
The veil between the world (Shield of Skathach) is thin, allowing spirits to cross over
Colours: Black, browns, reds, oranges
Evolved to Halloween and All Saints Day

Notes:
Folklore has it that in the three days preceding Samhain, the Sun God Lugh, maimed at Lughnassadh, dies by the hand of his Tánaiste (counterpart or heir), the Lord of Misrule. Lugh crosses the boundaries of the worlds on the first day of Samhain. The heir is a miser, and while he shines brightly in the sky, he gives no warmth nor tempers the north wind.

Yule


(yew-elle)
Traditional date: December 21
Actual astrological date: December 21 in 2006, and December 22 in 2007
Winter Solstice, first day of Winter, shortest day and longest night of the year
Alban Arthuran, or “Yule”, “Light of Arthur”, Fire Festival
Arcaic word “Yule” means Christmas?
Celebrates the end of darkness, the return of light to the earth
Gifts celebrated the sharing of the remaining harvest now that light would return
Ceremonies involve Mistletoe, burning of the Yule log (Icelandic tradition)
Wreath day is the first of four Sundays before Winter Solstice
Colours: Green, red, white, silver, gold
Evolved into a Christmas celebration

Notes:
The Druids felt the sun stood still for twelve days during this season and the Yule log was burnt to insure light for those days.

Imbolc


(ihm-olk) Imbolg or Oimelc
Traditional date: Feb 1 or 2
Actual astrological date: Feb 4 in 2006 and 2007
Midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox
Second Celtic fire festival (female)
Gaelic or Welsh “Imbolg” means “spring” (have not confirmed)
Festival of Lights, St Brigid’s Day
Celebrates the quickening of spring, the end of winter, time of abundance of milk
Time of planning and hopes
Ceremonies involve water, candles pledges and planting a hope or a seed, making candles
Burn your Christmas tree and light candles
Colours: Red, orange, white
Evolved into Groundhog Day

Notes:
Candlemas was a Christian holiday, 40 days after the nativity of Christ, as the day Jesus’s mother,
Mary, would have attended her purification ceremony after the birth of her son.
Observed Feb 2 by the Western churches.

Ostara

Traditional date: March 21
Actual astrological date: March 20 in 2006 and 2007
First day of Spring, actual Vernal or Spring Equinox, the night and day stand equal
Alban Eiler, “Light of the Earth”
Celebrates the the birth of spring, rebirth
Time of planting
Rare day of magic due to the rare balance of light and dark
Colours: Red and green or red and yellow
Evolved into Easter

Beltaine


or Beltane
Traditional date: April 30 and/or May 1
Actual astrological date: May 6th in 2006 and 2007
Midpoint between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice
The second largest and most important festival, great tribal gatherings
The beginning of the light half of the year, exact opposite day of Samhain
Third Celtic fire festival (male)
Old Irish “Beletene” means “bright fire
Gaelic “Bealtaine” means the month of May
Celtic word Beltaine mean fires of Bel
“Light of the Earth”
Time of rebirth
House fires were extinquished and relit from hilltop bonfires
Need-fires are built, walk between for purification
Bonfires of sacred wood are lit in honor of the Celtic god Beli
The veil between worlds (Shield of Skathach) is thin, allowing faeiries to cross over
Colours: Blue, pink, yellow, green
Evolved into May Day

Litha

Traditional date: June 21
Actual astrological date: June 21 in 2006 and 2007
Summer Solstice, first day of summer, longest day of the year
Alban Heruin, “Light of the Shore”
Mid Summer’s Eve
Celebrates the light and the sun without there would be no life
Time of strengths and accomplishments
Gather herbs as “Herb Night” is when they are most potent
Colours: Blue, green, yellow

Lughnasadh


or Lammas (Luh guh’ nahs eye or Loo nas saw)
Traditional date: August 1
Actual astrological date: August 7 in 2006 and 2007
Midpoint between Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox
Fourth Gaelic Fire Festival (female)
Celtic Lughnasadh means “Lugh’s assembly”
Modern Gaelic Lughnasadh means “August”
First harvest festival
Celebrates the beginning of harvest season, the decline of summer to winter
Time of dismiss regrets, farewells, perparation for winter
Ceremonies involve breads, grains and harvest corn dolls
Colours: Oranges, greens, browns

Mabon

Traditional date: September 21
Actual astrological date: September 23 in 2006 and 2007
Autumn Equinox, first day of Autumn, the night and day stand equal
Alban Elved, “Light of the Water”, Alban Elued
Second harvest festival
Celebrates harvest, death of the sun god
A day of magic due to the rare balance of light and dark
Time for thanks and learning, repairing all things
Colours: Dark reds, yellows, browns