Pagan Holidays: All of the Sabbats Explained

pagan holidays

Did you know that paganism is the fastest-growing religion in the world? It’s also one of the oldest groups of religions in the world with a deep history that’s obscured by modern reinterpretations of tradition. 

Modern religion built itself on the foundation of paganism. Pagan holidays were coopted into Christian ones, pagan rituals were secularized, and its traditions transformed to fit the new age.

Pagan history and holidays are fascinating! They celebrated a variety of holidays every year, with rituals and traditions for each one. So if you’re interested in going back to the Pagan roots and understanding what holidays they celebrated, and how they influenced our modern holidays, read on for a complete history!  

The Festival Cycle

Historically, the Pagan calendar varied across many cultures. For example, the Anglo-Saxons used a calendar of solstices and equinoxes. Meanwhile, the Celts used the start of each of the four seasons for their holidays. 

The modern Pagan cycle is known as the Wheel of the Year, which draws its inspiration from early European folklore and witchcraft. The Wheel of the Year consists of eight holidays that follow the traditional agricultural schedules. 

The holidays, also known as the eight sabbats, are tied to astrological events, so the dates aren’t exact and fluctuate annually. Celebrating the holidays is known as turning the wheel. 


Yule is the winter holiday and the origin of many familiar Christmas traditions. In Wiccan tradition, this holiday celebrates the birth of the Wiccan God from the Mother aspect of the Goddess.

His birth occurs on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. After giving birth, the Goddess rests, which is why winter is a time of rest on earth. 

Pagan tradition is a little broader and celebrates the return of the sun and the steadily lengthening days after the solstice. To celebrate, Pagans decorate trees and burn traditional Yule logs for good luck. 

Yule can fall anywhere from December 19th to the 23rd, but this year it’s on the 21st. 


Imbolc, or the Festival of Brigid, is a holiday at the very beginning of spring. Originally Gaelic, this holiday has spread to many Pagans and is a favorite for modern witchcraft rituals. 

Brigid is a fertility goddess in the Celtic pantheon, who is associated with fertility, rebirth, and fire. She also became Saint Brigid in Christianity, a saint associated with feeding the sick and poor. 

Imbolc marks the time when the first lambs are born. It is consequently associated with fertility and pregnancy. Every year, Celts and Pagans give thanks to Brigid for these fertile times and the promise of a good spring. 

Imbolc is often celebrated with fire, the planting of seeds, and Brigid dollies. In addition, many families leave oatcakes and milk for Brigid. 

Imbolc is a two-day festival, every year on February 1st and 2nd. 


Ostara falls on the spring equinox and is another holiday of abundance and renewal. As a Wiccan holiday, Ostara celebrated when the Goddess manifests as her Maiden aspect and the growth of the god to become a young man. 

It’s also regarded as the time that the Maiden meets Pan, the Horned God. Christianity adopted Ostara as Easter, and both holidays have similar symbolism. The rabbit is often celebrated as a symbol of fertility, and the first eggs of the season were often found around the spring equinox. 

Ostara can be anytime between March 19th and 23rd. In both 2021 and 2022, it lands on March 20th.


Beltane, also known as May Day, is a holiday of love and romance, celebrating the joining of the God and the Goddess. Pagans celebrate May Day with a large bonfire and a trip to the woods to make love.

There’s also typically lots of dancing, flowers, ribbons, and a maypole. This holiday is also considered a time where the boundary between the spirit world and our own is thinner. 

Beltane is between April 30th and May 1st. You can look forward to it on May 1st, 2022. 


Litha, also known as Midsummer, marks the summer solstice. The days are at their longest and the sun burns at its most intense. In this way, it reflects the Wiccan God reaching full power. 

This holiday dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who celebrated Athena, and the ancient Romans, who celebrated Juno, on the same day. Litha is celebrated with fresh fruits, marriage, and flowers. 

Litha lands anywhere between June 19th and 23rd. The next Litha festival is on June 21st, 2022.


This festival falls between summer and fall and celebrates the harvest of grains. At this time, the Wiccan God’s power begins to wane. Similarly in Celtic tradition, the Sun god transfers his power to the crops.

This festival is celebrated traditionally with athletic competitions like the ancient Olympics. In addition, bread is a staple of the holiday to celebrate the harvest of grains. 

Lughnasadh falls at the end of July and the beginning of August. The next Lughnasadh is on August 1st, 2022. 


Mabon celebrates the fall equinox. This is the second festival of the harvest and makes when fruits and vegetables are harvested. It’s also the start of autumn.

The Wiccan Goddess also transitions from Mother to Crone during this time, so Mabon is a way to express gratitude for what has already been given. 

The next Mabon festival is on September 22, 2021. 


Arguably the most famous Pagan holiday, Samhain is the final harvest and when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Celebrated today as Halloween, Samhain allows pagans to communicate with the dead and spirits to freely roam the earth.

In Wiccan tradition, Samhain marks the death of the Wiccan God and when the Crone reaches her highest power. The Wiccan Goddess is now pregnant with the next God, who will be born at Yule. 

Samhain always falls on October 31st. 

Honor the Tradition of Pagan Holidays

Pagan holidays are the source of many of our traditions today. Whether you’re a Wiccan, a pagan, or something else entirely, there’s something valuable about knowing where we come from and honoring the traditions of our ancestors. 

These holidays mark times when the supernatural collides with the natural, and are a great time to get a psychic reading. Look up our directory of psychics for the most accurate predictions. They’re already expecting your call

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