Celtic pagan festivals
The ancient Celtic pagan festivals marking important transition points during the year go back a very long time. With the coming of Wicca and neo-paganism a lot of those were appropriated and added to a new wheel of the year containing 8 festivals. When presenting these here I want to take a different approach and go back to the roots of the festivals, de-entangle them from their new age associations as much as I can and put them back into their historical and cultural context (with a focus on Irish traditions). For this reason I will use modern Irish names for all the festivals (along with the old Irish versions) but stay clear from the newer names and the anglicized ones.
The holidays or festivals can be separated into two groups: the fire festivals with a focus on community, hearth and home and the otherworld and the cross quarters with a focus on community, the land and this world. If we go back far enough, there used to only two seasons, winter and summer, the transition points between these two being times of great change and instability, associated with the movement of communities from one camp to another. These turning points were the foundation of the first festivals, which were then followed by two other ones marking important times for the harvest seasons.
The fire festivals
with a focus on community, hearth and home and the otherworld
The cross quarters
with a focus on community, the land and this world
- Earrach - spring equinox (march 20th)
- Samhradh - summer solstice (june 20th)
- Fómhar - autumn equinox (september 22nd)
- Gheimhreadh - winter solstice (december 21st)
Links and references
“La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles; L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles qui l’observent avec des regards familiers.”
- Charles Baudelaire