Keeping track of the eight main sabbats, or holidays, within Paganism is surprisingly difficult. Sure, most mainstream calendars come marked with the days of the solstices and equinoxes, but it's rare to pick up a planner that gives you a heads up about Lughnasadh. This is, in part, due to how Paganism and other nature-based faiths divide up the year.
Instead of 12 months, the Pagan calendar, which is more commonly referred to as the Wheel of the Year, is split up by quarter and cross-quarter days. The former group consists of the solstices and equinoxes (which mark the start of the four seasons), while the latter is made up of the days that mark the midpoint between each season.
That may sound like you have to adopt a whole new vocabulary to follow the Pagan year, but, once you see the Wheel for yourself, the pattern becomes much clearer. Below, get to know the Wheel of the Year, learn more about each of the Pagan sabbats, and make sure you finally write Lughnasadh into your planner.
This holiday occurs around the 21st or 22nd of December and celebrates both the winter solstice and the end of the year. You can observe it for yourself by lighting candles, planning a dinner party with friends, and planning ahead for the months and new year to come. And yes, for those who celebrate Christmas, you have Yule to thank for the tradition of bringing evergreen boughs (and whole trees) into your home at this time of year.
Imbloc falls around Groundhog Day, which was originally called Candlemas. Regardless of what you observe (or what you call it), these early-February holidays actually celebrate the same seasonal shift that Punxsutawney Phil is believed to predict: the quickening of the year. By February 1 or 2, everyone starts anticipating spring's arrival — and, in some parts of the world, there may already be signs of the changing seasons. Imbolc is your chance to get excited for the warmer months and even pull your lighter jackets out of storage.
The spring equinox, as this sabbat is also known, signals the start of spring (on or around March 21) and the rebirth within nature that accompanies the season. This is a perfect time of year to start thinking about changes you can make in your personal life, whether you're vying for a promotion or hope to move homes soon. Around Ostara, "new" is synonymous with "good."
You may know this sabbat by its more secular name, May Day, or by its traditions of lighting bonfires and performing maypole dances — but, at its heart, Beltane celebrates the divine feminine. May 1 marks the midpoint between Ostara and Litha, and from now until the summer solstice, the weather (and people's thoughts) will only continue to heat up. Embrace this holiday's sensual energy by flaunting your flirtatious side, or simply sit back and enjoy the warmth and bounty of nature.
By June 21, summer has a officially started — and Litha observations more than do justice to this balmy season. In honor of the longest day of the year, catch as many rays as you can and spend the day outside. Whether you're meditating and journaling in the park or chilling on a rooftop bar, simply taking advantage of this day's extra sunlight is a form celebration.
Lammas, also referred to as Lughnasadh, is your latest reminder that a change is always on the horizon — in this case, that change is the fast-approaching fall equinox. Some may dread this sabbat, which falls on August 1, since it alludes to the end of summer, too. But, when viewed as a chance for a final summertime hurrah, Lammas is far from gloomy. Plus, it's the heads up we all need to start planning for the fall and winter now.
September 21 kicks off autumn and nature's symbolic "winding down." As the leaves begin to fall, consider what's come to an end in your own life. The fall equinox is your opportunity to check in with yourself, see how far you've come since last autumn, and pay tribute to that progress.
Sometimes called "Pagan Halloween," Samahain is actually Halloween's much older, more mature sibling, which happens to fall on October 31, too. The veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is believed to be at its thinnest on this day, so it's perfectly understandable if you find yourself in a darker mood than usual. Lean into those vibes and spend Samhain reflecting on deceased loved ones and considering the role that death plays in your life (keeping in mind that death doesn't have to be all that spooky).