Pagan Holiday Calendar 2016 tells the tale of the celebrations that fill up the year for people of the Pagan community. Before we delve in to the Pagan celebrations, let us first have an idea about what Paganism actually is.

The word Paganism refers to the community of people who do not believe on a central authority where religion is concerned. The Pagan festivals have stemmed from various legends and have deep connection to Nature and the changes that occur in it round the year. Mother Earth and Mother Nature have always been put to the highest pedestal by the people observing Pagan faith.

Paganism is not restricted to a specific group of people – it encompasses a diverse population who practice polytheism. Naturally such a group of people cannot be limited to one set of ideas of beliefs. Their rituals and beliefs are as diverse as the community itself. Consequently, there are multiple numbers of Pagan Festivals that are celebrated round the year. Some of these festivals are celebrated differently among the different sects. Some of the sects also have their own set of rituals and celebrations, which may not be adhered to by the other sects.

However there are some primary festivals and celebrations that are widely celebrated by the entire community. There are eight such major festivals round the year. Together, these eight festivals cumulatively make up The Wheel of the Year. Most of these festivals have seasonal significance and also mark various agricultural milestones.

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Pagan festivals are mostly community oriented, and the traditional rites and rituals mainly take place outdoors. The dates of the Pagan Festivals are calculated as per the traditional Celtic Calendar. The dates are based on the tides of the moon and are in general quarter or cross quarter days of the month.

  • February 2, Imbolc (pronunciation: ‘im’olk’) – This festival also goes by the name of Oimel. The term has an interesting coinage, for the term is believed to be an Irish word which when translated to English would mean “inside the belly”. This is one of the most significant of the Pagan traditions. This festival takes place six months before one reaps the harvest. People gather to make solemn prayers so that there is bountiful harvest to keep all the bellies full round the year. This is also the time when the Sun (which is considered to be the source of strength and power) is not at its strongest, and as such people pray to the Goddess of Fire, called Brigid or Brigit, who is believed to bless her followers with healing power and fertility. The Sun would get healed to exude full strength soon, while the land would become fertile to take care of the inhabitants.

  • March 20, Ostara/ Eoster (Spring Equinox) – This can be referred to as the Pagan Spring Festival when the Goddess Ostara is worshipped. Ostara is believed to have powers to bless her followers with Fertility, just like Spring Season, which brings new life on Earth. As the harsh winter paves way to the milder Spring, it is believed that the Gods and Goddesses are gaining more and more power and strength. Many traditional rituals as well as fun community activities mark the occasion.

  • May 1, Beltane – This is a happy festival for the Pagan people where the Celtic Goddess Bel is worshipped. The term Beltane when literally translated means the Fire of Bel. This Festival coincides with the commencement of the Summer Season. Summer is considered to be of high significance in the Cetic Culture for that is the best suitable time for nurturing agriculture, and society in the earlier days was mostly dependent on agriculture. Naturally Beltane is a joyous occasion where people gather round a bon fire and indulge in fun activities. It is considered that jumping over the fire would enhance fertility.  This is also considered proper for couples in a relationship to declare their courtship at this time and then fix a date for marriage sometime later in the year.

  • June 21, Litha (Summer Solstice) – This is celebrated on the day of Summer Solstice when the sun is at its highest power. The term Litha when translated signifies a Time When The Sun Stands Still. Summer Solstice is the time when the Sun is at its maximum power. As such the Celtic people believe that this is the time of the union of Gods and Goddesses bringing maximum blessings down to the mortals on Earth. This is the time to be thankful for the harvest that is reaped. This is also the time to bow down before the fact that Life’s cycle can never be changed or challenged; for after this time the Sun starts to lose its strength.

  • August 1, Lughnasadh (pronunciation: loo’nass’ah) - Lammas – Seasonal changes and harvest have always been of primary importance in all the Pagan festivals, and this one is no exception. This is the day which is considered to be the first day of the harvesting season. After this day would come the time when people would start to reap the harvest.

  • September 23. Mabon (Autumn Equinox) – This is the day of the year that experiences equal nights and days. After this day, the darkness of the night would take over the glory of the day. This is also the time when the last call of harvesting comes; for after this period there would be lull during winter then the whole world would go into hibernation. This is the time when the Celtic people pay homage to the Gods and Goddesses for blessing them with a good harvest. It is also the time to think about the deeds of the past, plan rectification of mistakes, and chalk out how to shape the future.

  • October 31, Samhain (Halloween) – This term literally means the Feast in honor of the Dead. Death has never been considered to be something related to morbidity by the people adhering to the Celtic Faith. On the contrary, Death is taken to be the most natural course of life’s ongoing cycle. During this period, the Pagan people believe that the wall that separates the world of the living, and that of the dead, becomes negligibly thin; and the souls from the world of the dead come down to mingle with those in the living world. This is a festival that is celebrated before a blazing Holy Fire around which the community gathers, often dressed in costumes that are suitable for the occasion. Dancing and feasting fill up the air with merriment. This is also the day when the families where babies have been born recently formally welcome the newborn to become part of the family as well as the community.

  • December 21, Yule (Winter Solstice) – The Yule has been derived from the word Houl which literally translated means The Wheel. As mentioned earlier, the Wheel of Nature that is experienced on Earth by means of the changes in seasons are considered to be of utmost importance by the Pagan people. They believe that during Yule, this Wheel of Nature gets topsy-turvy. This is the time when the power of the sun is at the bare minimum. This is also the time when the Pagan people believe that the Gods and Goddesses lose much of their power, just contrary to summer when they are at the pinnacle of their glory. The ancient Celtic community was largely dependent on farming and hunting as a source of their livelihood and also for sustenance. Naturally, the Wheel of Nature was of extreme significance to them. People light a Holy Bon Fire, and it is considered auspicious to keep the Fire burning for twelve days. It is also a custom to cross dress for the occasion.