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The Wheel of the Year is a yearly cycle of celebrations, observances, and rituals that have been observed by many cultures throughout history.
The Celtic peoples traditionally observed a year with twelve months, divided into two halves. The first half of the year was seen as a time to prepare for winter and the second half was seen as a time to celebrate summer. The months were named after natural events such as the Winter Solstice (Samhain), Spring Equinox (Ostara), Summer Solstice (Litha), Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and Winter Solstice (Imbolc).
The Celts also celebrated eight major festivals or sabbats over the course of their year: Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh or Lammas, Mabon and Samhain. Each festival marks an important event in agricultural life with respect to growth and fertility.
The Celts believe that time is a circle, not linear. As such, they celebrated events as they came around each year in order to keep time in balance with nature.
The Wheel of the Year is a term used in many different spiritual traditions to refer to the cycle of time that we go through as Earth goes around the sun. This cycle is also known as the "great year" or "year of our Lord".
The wheel is divided into eight parts, which are each associated with a particular holiday or occasion. The following table provides a brief overview of these eight parts.
The Wheel of the Year is a term from modern Neopaganism and Druidry that refers to eight festivals in a cycle. The festivals are spaced at six-month intervals, and each celebrates a different part of life - for example fertility, marriage, death. The names of the festivals may vary, with some festivals having multiple names.
What are the Wheel of the Year's Major Festivals?
The Wheel of the Year is a pagan tradition that has been practiced for centuries. It consists of eight festivals, which are celebrated at different times throughout the year.
The first festival is called the Vernal Equinox and it is celebrated on March 20th. The second festival is called the Autumnal Equinox and it is celebrated on September 22nd. The third festival is called the Winter Solstice and it is celebrated on December 21st.
The fourth festival is called Imbolc, which celebrates light returning to Earth after the dark winter months. The fifth festival celebrates Ostara, which represents fertility and new life in springtime. The sixth festival celebrates Beltane, which marks a time when people celebrate love and sexuality with bonfires, flowers and Maypoles.
The seventh festival celebrates Litha, which marks midsummer's day - when daylight hours are at their longest - as well as a time when people harvest crops such as corn, beans or squash in
The festival may be referred to by its date within the solar year, for example the European Beltane is also called May Day. The first day of this cycle is called Yule and marks winter’s end on December 21st when we reach the first point in our orbit around the sun where we are not tilted towards or away from it as much as usual. Ostara (a word which derives from Easter) celebrates spring’s arrival on March 2nd when there has been plenty of sunshine or when “the snow melts” and children anticipate their new clothes coming out of storage. Litha marks summer solstice (June 21) and is the longest day of the year. Lughnasa is a festival that celebrates harvest time on August 1st when farmers are in for a bumper crop of crops, but it’s also about bountifulness and abundance. Mabon marks autumnal equinox (September 23rd), when the days start getting shorter, and Samhain is celebrated on November 1st as we enter winter again.
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