Druidic Holy Days
As Druids we celebrate the four "High Days" of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnasad. We also recognize the half way points between each of these Solstices and Equinoxes, which are called "Fire Festivals". The Fire Festivals start at sunset and last each for three days. On these days great bonfires are built, rituals are held, and there would be feasting and games. Each of these holy days are observed by the turning of the "Wheel of the Year" and are taken from our Indo-European forefathers. Due to calendrical research and observance, we often celebrate the Major High Days a few days after other Neopagans groups. Some Druids, Groves, and Circles also often celebrate the various phases of the moon, or Lunar Cycles.
"The High Days"
- Samhain: The 1st of November, is known as the Celtic New Year and the Day of the Dead. The feast for this time known to the ancient Celts is "Trinoux Samonis", or "Tritinoux Samonis". Rituals performed on this day are rituals of Divination or Protection, because it is thought that the veil between our world and the other world was the thinnest allowing spirits to pass over freely. This was also a time for remembering and paying respect to those who have died during the year. Feasts, games, and bonfires were held to pay tribute to the dead. It is also said that people would dress as ghouls and ghosts to scare away the spirits, as well as build bonfires to sit around in hopes it would keep the spirits from their children. There are many derivations of these Fables. The current day celebration of Samhain is Halloween, or All Hallows Eve. This is an Old World holiday that has been changed over time, but has not been lost over the predominantly Christian decades.
- Imbolc: 1st of February; This is the time that the stirring of life is first noticeable in the forests, plants begin to bloom, and the fields may be plowable. It is reffered to as "The Return of Light" and this day has been secularized, at least in America, as Ground hog day. Also known as Oimealg of Eumelc, which means first milking, we could assume that this is when the ewes would begin lactating again. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools for the coming Spring.
- Beltaine: 1st of May; This is an observance of fertility and life and is known as "The Fires of Bel." Belenos was the Gaulish God of light, and is referred to as "The Shining One". Spring has arrived and people celebrate the beginning of the Summer half of the year. Cattle were driven between bonfire lit hills, said to aid in their procreation. This was also a common time of the year for ajoining and marriages. Beltaineis celebrated with large bonfires, rituals, love, games, and great feasts. It is celebrated by many non-Pagans as May Day where both Pagan and non-Pagans alike still dance around the May pole to celebrate fertility.
- Lughnasad: 1st of August; known as the Feast of Lugh, the Irish God, who was considered the son of the Sun. This was a time to celebrate the new harvest and to give thanks to Earth Mother for her bounty.
- Yule: Winter Solstice, December 20-23; This is the Solstice observance, where the longest night of the year is celebrated. It is officially the mid winter cycle. Darkness now prevails, but will soon give way to light.
- Eostar: Spring Equinox, March 20-23; This is the time of spring's official return. A time of joy and the seed time, when life bursts forth from the Earth and chains of winter are broken.
- Litha: Summer Solstice, June 20-23; This is the time of the rose blossom and thorn, the time of frangrance and blood. Now is the longest day, where light prevails over darkness, but it's also the beginning of the decline back into the dark half of the year.
- Mabon: Fall Equinox, September 20-23; This is the time of reaping the harvest, of thanks giving and joy, of leave taking, and sorrow. Now the day and night are equal, giving way to perfect balance.