Anglo-Saxon Holidays


Imbolc- February 2nd
Oaster March 21st
Beltaine- May 1st
Litha- June 21st
Lughnasadh- August 1st
Mabon September 21st
Samhain- November 1st
Yule December 21st

Imbolc (Eem-volk) This is a celebration of the mysteries of femininity; also a celebration of the mother and the pregnant womb. This is a winter holiday, and is observed with the quiet togetherness of the family with the colors of pink, red, and white. Associated with the Goddess Brigit, and accompanied with various forms of fire in worship of her.

Eostara (Eh-star-a), Spring Equinox. This is a celebration of the bursting of frost, and the coming of spring. It is a fertility festival. It is celebrated with fertility symbols, such as bunnies, eggs, ducklings. It has been Christianized as Easter. This is a time of new beginnings. Hot cross buns, symbolizing the sun in its perfect balance of equal night and day, were baked and shared. This time was also observed as the Birth of the Green Man. He symbolizes the togetherness of mankind and the plants in Nature. His counterpart is the Red Maiden, who symbolizes the togetherness of mankind and animals. They are complimented with another couple called the Green Maiden and the Red Man, who symbolize the same things, but complete the symbolism, as plants and animals are both male and female.

Beltaine (Bel-tan-yuh) May Day. Celebration of fertility and the fullness of spring. Celebrated with the May Pole and flowers. After the May Pole is wound, the couples would traditionally go "green gowning", which means that the couples would go sleep together in the bushes. This was a time popular for bonfires, and it was believed that if people would drive their cattle past the bonfires they would be purified and prosperous in the coming year. Also, it was believed that if couples would run and jump over the fires "sky-clad" (naked) that they would be fertile and blessed as well. People would wear green, associated with the colors of the Faeries. The marriage of the Green Man and the Red Maiden, and the Red Man and the Green Maiden was said to take place in this day, symbolizing the togetherness of all nature. This was not a good day for marriages, however, because the Green Man was destined to die at the end of the summer, and it was thought that the marriage would reflect this fated death.

Litha (Lee-thuh) Summer Solstice. The celebration of the Summer and the Earth Mother. A popular time for marriages, in the belief that this would infer the blessings of the Earth Mother. Also a time of blessing for the plentiful crops later to be harvested.

Lughnasadh (Loo-nuh-sav); Celebration of the fullness of summer. This was time for fires and feasting, and games. Men and boys would compete in races, wrestling, and rowing, and the winners would be in charge of protecting the villages in the coming year. This was a day for the observance and reverence of male energy. This would be reflected in the worship of the Green Man and the Red Man, and in some cultures, a Red and Green Man is chosen to be team captains for the games.

Mabon (Ma-bun) Autumnal Equinox; The celebration of the bounties of the harvest. Beer and wine were served in plenty in tribute to the plenteousness. The Anglo-Saxon Thanksgiving. These feasts were also following the tradition that the harvest needed to be shared with the entire village throughout the winter in order to incur the blessings of the Gods.

Samhain (Sow-in); the celebration of the death of summer. The last of the harvest. At this time, the veil between worlds is thinnest, and the dead can cross over and be with the living. Food and drink are set out for the spirits, and also lights and torches, to guide the spirits in and also to deter the evil spirits, which is where the traditions of the Jack-o-lantern comes from. In some cultures, this feast was shared in silence. This was also the day that the Green Man dies. In some cultures, during the earlier festivals, a man from the village was chosen to represent the Green Man, and during this celebration, he was ritualistically sacrificed. This is also known as the "Witch's Sabbat" because this was the time of year for witchcraft to be prevalent, as the witches could conduct seaances and have conferences with the dead. This holiday was later Christianized as All Hallows Eve or St. George's Day, Hallow'een, or as we know it, Halloween.

Yule: Celebration of the slumber of the earth coming to an end, and the celebration of the birth of the Sun God out of Night. This is the longest night of the year, also known as Candlemass, because the candles were lit in observance of the holiday. Also, the yule log was burned, along with a log saved from the previous year, in order to burn out the old year and burn in the New Year. Precursor to the modern Christmas, where the Sun God was replaced by Christ, who traditionally was born in September. Children would be led from house to house with gifts of clove-spiked apples and oranges, symbolizing the Sun, as the days from this point on would start to get longer and brighter.