Blog changes

In an effort to get this blog back on track I have simplified it, deleted some of the attached one-topic blogs
and focused on Sabbats and Esbats, which was the original intent.
Other writings will be in 'stumbling upon the path of the goddess'
and the Borrowed Book of Charms is still active.
Links in the right hand column.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Holidays, Holydays and Sabbats

Here is a brief comparison of the major celebrations of Wiccans and Christians……not all celebrations apply to all sects, this is just a general overview for comparison.

I will take the prerogative to start at the beginning of the Wiccan calendar and list the eight Sabbats.

Samhain, the Last Harvest, falls at the end of October. The secular holiday is now called Halloween, taken from the Christian name All Hallows Eve. It is the day before the Catholic holyday of All Saints Day, which honors the dead martyrs and other saints of note. It is interesting that in some pagan paths the dead are also honored on this day. In the earth based religions, the end of the harvest is celebrated.

Yule, the Winter Solstice. The Christian holyday is Christmas. The secular holiday goes by the same name. This was an incredibly important day back when the majority of people were hunters, gatherers or farmers. The days had been getting shorter since the summer equinox, the darkest day of the year meant that the days would soon be longer (and warmer) and was a cause for celebration and hope. It is no wonder that important days of religious celebration became attached to this day.

Imbolc, around the first of February is also known as Candlemas, Brigid’s Day and St. Bridget’s Day.

Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The Christian celebration is Easter. Spring is in full swing, daylight equals dark, it is a time for the celebration of the rebirth of the earth.

Beltane, May Day and the Pentecost are minor celebrations that occur approximately 40 days following Ostara or Easter.

LItha or Midsummer, the Summer Solstice. There is no corresponding date of equal importance on the Christian calendar. Perhaps early Christians were busy just trying to stay out of the Coliseum during the hot summer.

Lughnasadh, the Early Harvest, around the 1st of August and Mabon, the Autumn Equinox. We are in this period now. There are no major Christian celebrations that correspond to these days. There are several secular holidays that cover the period from early summer thru late fall, including Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day and Thanksgiving, which is a late harvest celebration.

I was naively planning to include major Jewish celebrations in this comparison, but I found this on the website Judaism 101
and opted out…
"The Jewish calendar is based on three astronomical phenomena: the rotation of the Earth about its axis (a day); the revolution of the moon about the Earth (a month); and the revolution of the Earth about the sun (a year). These three phenomena are independent of each other, so there is no direct correlation between them. On average, the moon revolves around the Earth in about 29½ days. The Earth revolves around the sun in about 365¼ days, that is, about 12.4 lunar months.
The Gregorian calendar used by most of the world has abandoned any correlation between the moon cycles and the month, arbitrarily setting the length of months to 28, 30 or 31 days.
The Jewish calendar, however, coordinates all three of these astronomical phenomena. Months are either 29 or 30 days, corresponding to the 29½-day lunar cycle. Years are either 12 or 13 months, corresponding to the 12.4 month solar cycle."

I wanted this blog to be educational for me….I had no idea. I have calendars that list the major holidays for major religions, but they do not explain how those dates are arrived at. After looking over this site I decided that a simple list of dates would be a pitiful attempt to fit things into my calendar.

The Wiccan system of Sabbats (the sun cycles) and Esbats (more on esbats later, they are based on the moon cycles) seems almost childishly simple by comparison with this. So I will leave it with the comment that obviously the changing season of the earth played a major role in the traditional celebrations of Jewish life.

I did not get very far sorting out the Islamic calendar either, which is also a lunar calendar. I think that further study of these two calendars with a comparison to Neo-Pagan calendars will have to wait for another day, but I will definitely get to that. For now I will settle for this quick overview of Neo-Pagan and Christian celebrations.

This connection with the natural cycles of the earth was, at one time, important to all people. As the world becomes more urban, more people forget our connection with the natural world.

Wicca and some other neo-Pagan religions are about renewing that connection.

Next time....a quick talk about Esbats

1 comment:

  1. Blessed be.

    I enjoyed reading this article about holidays, holydays, and sabbats.

    You know, there are actually a lot more sacred days in the Pagan/Wiccan Paths.

    Look for the book 'Everyday Wicca' by Gerina Dunwich (see pages 30-44), and also the book, 'Grimoire for the Green Witch' by Ann Moura (see pages 13-14).

    I have specific days from both those books that I choose to celebrate. It makes for a more personalized journey with the Goddesses, I think.

    Have a great week.



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