Wheel Of The Year: Sabbats, Calendar & Definition

In paganism and in most neo-pagan religions or traditions, the Wheel of the Year is the symbol that mainly represents the natural cycle of the seasons. Through it, the eight festivities of the wheel called Sabbat are celebrated. Some traditions divide the eight festivities into four major Sabbats and four minor Sabbat.

The first four major Sabbats are associated with the seasonal cycles of agriculture and livestock and the rhythms of nature (Samhain or Halloween, Imbolc or Candelora, Beltane, Lughnasadh or Lammas). The other four minor Sabbats are associated according to the main solar cycles of the year, namely the Solstices (Summer Solstice - Litha or Midsummer - and Winter Solstice - Yule -) and the Equinoxes (Spring Equinox - Ostara - and Autumn Equinox - Mabon -).

Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year, in addition to representing the passing of the seasons, also represents the wheel and the passing of life: birth, growth, decline and death. In this way the wheel of the year is also reflected on us who are an integral part of nature and we advance together with it.

Samhain or Halloween

It is celebrated between October 31 and November 1, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Beltane between April 30 and May 1, in the Southern Hemisphere).

Samhain celebration

Samhain is also called the "Celtic New Year", as the Wheel of the Year comes to its end and then starts its round again. In fact, this is the festivity that marked the end of the harvests and the end of the season of light and consequently the beginning of the season of darkness and the cold and dark part of the year.

Samhain is also the festivity that symbolizes above all the passage and is considered a feast out of time. In fact, on this night the veil between the two worlds thins and the spirits of those who died during the year can embark on their journey to the afterlife, while the spirits of ancestors can return to visit our world.

For this reason Samhain also represents the moment in which we give thanks for what we have been given during the year and reflect on what we have lost, so it is a way of also making a harvest within ourselves, of all things. positive and also negative ones, to make new resolutions for the year to come and to let go of what we no longer want.

The symbols of Samhain are also seasonal fruits and vegetables: pomegranates, pumpkins (the jack o 'lantern), pine cones, apples and acorns.

Yule or Winter Solstice

It is celebrated around December 21, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Litha and Summer Solstice around June 21, in the Southern Hemisphere)

Yule celebrates the Winter Solstice, the rebirth and reappearance of light and the sun that gradually begins to return and shine after a period of cold and darkness, as well as the shortest day of the year, after which the hours of light are lengthen. In fact, starting from the Winter Solstice, we move from the waning phase of the wheel of the year to the increasing phase.

Winter Solstice

Yule is a time of transition and transformation. The nature and life around us still appears calm and restful, but little by little it prepares to live and start a new cycle of the Wheel of the Year. This also happens within us: after a period of reflection and introversion, it's time to wake up and start preparing for the near future. But before this it is also a time of celebration, peace and rest.

The main symbol of Yule is the Yule tree, which is decorated to represent and propitiate the fortune and fertility of the coming year. Or the Yule log is used and burned, of which a piece of the used log is saved and kept throughout the year to protect the house. Other symbols of this festivity are evergreen plants, such as pines, mistletoe, holly, berries, and fragrant decorations such as cloves and cinnamon.

Imbolc or Сandelora

It is celebrated around 1 February, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Lughnasadh around 1 August, in the Southern Hemisphere)

Imbolc literally means "in the womb" and is the festivity that lies between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and celebrates rebirth, purification and new sowing. In fact, the cold season is still present in nature, which seems to be still asleep, but the climate begins to show the first signs of heat on the earth and under it something begins to move. The days are getting longer and longer, the sun is getting stronger, and consequently nature begins to come to life again and so it also happens within us.


For all these reasons Imbolc is also the festival of light, represented by the flames of candles, which accompany us towards the affirmation of new ideas and projects for the months to come. In this sense Imbolc is also a holiday linked to the renewal, as well as to the purification of ourselves, of our body, mind and spirit, and also of our homes.

A main symbol of this festivities are the candles and the sacred plant of Imbolc is the snowdrop, as it is the first flower of the year to bloom.

Ostara or Spring Equinox

It is celebrated around March 21st or 22nd, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Mabon and Autumn Equinox around September 21st or 22nd, in the Southern Hemisphere)

With Ostara we celebrate the Spring Equinox. After the hours of day and night have the same length, the hours of light finally exceed those of dark and the sun and makes its way to start the summer, so the temperatures return to warm up. For these reasons, the Equinox is a symbol of transition, positive changes and hope.

ostara ritual

This is in fact the feast of new beginnings, of fervor and of rediscovered energies, so this moment of the Wheel of the Year was celebrated with great feasts, rituals, dances and songs to symbolize the regeneration of life, the awakening of nature and the fertility of earth.
The main symbols of Ostara are the seeds and flowers (symbols of buds and newborn flowers), the eggs (symbol of rebirth), the rabbit or the hare (symbols of fertility for their rapidity in reproduction). Ostara for all these reasons represents the festival of rebirth, in and around us.

Beltane (May Eve)

It is celebrated around May 1, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Samhain or Halloween around November 1, in the Southern Hemisphere)

Beltane, also known as May Eve, is the festivity that celebrates fertility and the arrival of summer. The light has now come and therefore it is time to finally look forward to the future and to prepare for the warm months that are coming. But it is also a time of love and union, since we are in the moment of maximum fertility on earth, but it is not simply a question of sex, but of procreation.

The main symbol of this holiday is the Maypole, a long wooden pole (usually in maple) that is decorated with ribbons and a crown of flowers placed on top over the "tip", so that while men and women dance in a way by weaving the ribbons around the pole, this slowly descends to the ground, suitable to propitiate abundance.

Litha (Midsummer) or Summer Solstice

It is celebrated around 21 or 22 June, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Yule and Winter Solstice around 21 December, in the Southern Hemisphere)

Summer Solstice ritual

Litha, also called Midsummer, celebrates the Summer Solstice with which the first half of the cycle of the Wheel of the Year ends.
The Litha festival includes bonfires, dances and banquets of fresh seasonal fruit and sweets, to celebrate the triumph of sunlight, at the time of the Wheel of the Year when it reaches its maximum height above the horizon, and the day pushes up to its maximum duration while the night is the shortest of the year. Fires and bonfires are lit both as a symbol of purification and propitiatory, but also to ward off evil spirits and to ward off evil during the celebrations.

In Litha the main celebrations are connected to the earth and its fertility, while others are dedicated to the collection of herbs and magical plants such as St. John's wort, verbena, mugwort and the famous St. John's wort, since the magic of love and healing is suitable for this time of the Wheel of the Year.

Lughnasadh or Lammas

It is celebrated around August 1, in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Imbolc or Candelora around February 1, in the Southern Hemisphere)

Lughnasadh, roughly halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox, is the first harvest festival, when the wheat is cut to begin its baking cycle and the Wheel of the Year is at the peak of fertility, but it is also the time when its slow decline begins and thus marks the transition from summer to autumn.

The harvest festival and the wheat harvest are very important, as the more wheat you can harvest the more your food and sustenance will be. In fact, during this holiday it is common to gather to thank the abundance of the harvest and to ask for a better harvest for the year and the following months. This period marks the time to relax and start reaping the rewards of your labors.

In addition to bread and wheat, another main symbol of this holiday a la "corn doll", a doll built with the harvested ears, which was kept until the following year to propitiate another harvest or is burned as a rite of luck and fertility. For this reason Lughnasadh also celebrates the cyclical nature of life, death and rebirth.

Mabon or Autumn Equinox

Its is celebrated around 21 or 22 September in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated Ostara or Spring Equinox around 21 or 22 March in the Southern Hemisphere)

Mabon celebrates the Autumn Equinox through thanksgiving and reflection on what has been gained and lost over the course of the year and brings with it the beginning of the end. It is the time of the Wheel of the Year in which to take into account what we have sown on what we have collected during the year, to take stock and reap the latest fruits of our work to also stock up in anticipation of the winter to come. In fact Mabon is also the feast of the second harvest and another symbol of the Equinox is the Cornucopia, a bottomless basket filled with all the food you want. During the Autumn Equinox, day and night are the same length, but the strength and heat of the sun begins to diminish.

Autumn Equinox ritual

During this day walks were organized in the woods, plants, leaves, berries were collected to be used as symbols and decorations, or dishes with seasonal fruit and vegetables, typical of the late harvest, were prepared.

Mabon is also the right time to enjoy the silence and stillness, an excellent atmosphere to meditate and begin to celebrate the ancestors, to thank and feel satisfied, to relax and be happy with one's path taken throughout the course of the Wheel of the Year.

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