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List of Pagan Holidays And Traditions According To The Bible

By Priyadarshi Nepal | 15 May 2023 09:19 AM

A Wheel of the Year showing all the Pagan Holidays in a cyclic form as it is celebrated.
Source : pinterest

List of Pagan Holidays includes Beltane, Imbolc, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Ostara, Samhain, and Yule. Pagans celebrate eight holidays in a year.

Paganism started in ancient Rome when non-Christians were grouped into a single religion.

In ancient Rome, Pagans were those groups or individuals who did not follow Christianity and were instead inclined towards Polytheism, worshipping several gods and goddesses.

People were considered to be in the Pagan class if they were distant from the Christain population and were not soldiers of Christ. Paganism was also closely related to ritual sacrifices and the sacrifices were often used as a defining factor for Paganism in the early days.

Paganism was also referred to as the "religion of the peasantry," in its early days. Regardless of its origins, some of the traditions of the religion are still being carried out by different groups often known as modern Pagans.

Pagan Holidays And Traditions are celebrated based on the infinite cycle of annual death and rebirth of the sun.

The cyclic belief has shaped the festivals according to the dates marking four seasons and mid of those four seasons, hence, 8 major holidays and festivals in Paganism.

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1. Yule

Yule is the mid-winter festival celebrated by Pagans. Yule is celebrated around the 19th and 21st of January but the Georgian date changes continuously.

Yule was traditionally celebrated by Germanic Peoples but the festival later got incorporated into the Christain celebration of Christmas after Germanic Peoples started following Christianity. Modern traditions including Yule Log used in Christmas celebrations come from the traditional Yule celebration.

A traditional Yule Log decorated with green leaves and vines with three candles burning on top.
Source : pinterest

Haakon the Good, a Norwegian king who was baptized and followed Christianity incorporated the Yule celebration to co-incide with the Christain holiday. He passed a strict order that everyone must drink Ale and celebrate the festival until the food and drinks lasted.

The king also instructed about the sacrifices where he said livestock must be sacrificed and their blood poured on idols and walls of the temple but the meat was to be boiled and served to everyone. He also instructed people to light a fire in the middle of the temple floor.

The holiday is also connected to the Wild Hunt and Odin. Although the date of observance of the ancient Yule festival is unknown, historians have deduced that it was celebrated on the full moon of the second Yule month.

According to Britannica, Yule is celebrated by the followers of Modern Paganism. The celebration often includes burning the traditional Yule log, having a large feast with loved ones, and some simply pulling an all-nighter to watch the cycle of the sun.

The neo-paganism followers observe Yule on winter solstice which falls on December 21 or 22 in the northern hemisphere and June 20 or 21 in the southern hemisphere.

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2. Imbolc

Imbolc is one of the four seasonal holidays observed by Pagans. Imbolc is also celebrated as St Brigid Day by Christians and Irish people.

Imbolc is celebrated close to February 1 every year in the northern hemisphere and close to August 1 every year in the southern hemisphere by the Neopagans. However, in Ireland, the festival is also known as St.Brigid Day and is celebrated on the first Monday of February every year.

St Brigid's Cross hung on a door to celebrate Imbolc festival.
Source : pinterest

The festival's original customs and traditions have been lost over the centuries as there are not much literature available but numerous Irish ancient texts and manuscripts mention the celebration of Imbolc. The festival was celebrated to honor Goddess Brigid in ancient times.

Imbolc was celebrated by weaving dolls of Goddess Brigid and her crosses. The crosses are hung over doors and windows for protection from evil spirits. The dolls were paraded around the village or town and people believed Brigid visited one's home so they made beds and left food and drinks for the goddess.

In modern times, Neopagans observe the festival in different styles according to their location and traditions. Some Neopagans rely on the full moon to celebrate the festival while others observe it on an astronomical basis. 

The traditions of the celebrations also vary greatly between places and communities, while some try to recreate the ancient celebrations and traditions, others have their own customs and traditions for celebration.

3. Ostara

Ostara also known as Spring Equinox is a Holiday observed between Imbolc and Beltane. Ostara signifies the balance of light and darkness in paganism.

The spring festival is also observed to celebrate and welcome the season as part of life advancing further from the grips of harsh winter. The holiday is also celebrated to honor the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.

Traditional food items prepared for celebration of Ostara.
Source : pinterest

Ostara signifies fertility, rebirth, and renewal. Ancient people would start planting seeds in the ground after the Spring Equinox. Hares are often used as a symbol to represent the holiday due to their mating season falling at the time of the holiday celebration.

Although the ancient celebration or traditional observance of the festival is unknown for the most part, modern neopaganism celebrates the holiday by connecting with nature by meditating outside or sowing a seed to mark the beginning of spring.

However, some families might also celebrate the holiday by preparing traditional meals and seasonal candies such as chocolate rabbits to help the kids get into the festive mood.

Ostara is observed between Imbolc and Beltane as a mid-season celebration and falls around March 20 when the length of night and day are equal.

4. Beltane

Beltane is one of the four major seasonal festivals in Paganism. Belathane is observed to mark the beginning of the summer season in May.

In ancient paganism, the festival would mark the day when farmers would let their animals into the summer pasture. The day was also celebrated with a huge bonfire made in the village.

People observed the holiday by circling the specially made bonfire with their cattle and livestock and believed the smoke and ashes from the fire would protect them and their livestock from evil.

People forming a circle around bonfire as part of traditional Beltane celebration.
Source : pinterest

Fire at the people's homes was also put off and reignited with the fire from the bonfire made in the village and it was believed the new flames had powers to the protection of people's homes, and crops and encouraged growth.

The celebration was also often accompanied by a large feast and offerings to Aos Si. People decorated their homes, livestock, and sometimes farms with yellow flowers.

However, the celebration of Beltane has vastly died out in most parts of Europe apart from a handful of counties and places in Scotland but they are believed to be a revival of the tradition rather than a continual celebration.

Neopaganism celebrates Beltane in various styles in different parts of the world based on their own traditions. While some Neopagans try to mimic the ancient celebrations, others have reconfigured the celebrations based on a number of factors.

The Beltane celebration coincides with the celebration of May Day or Labor Day in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, Beltane is celebrated on November 1 annually.

5. Litha

Litha is one of the mid-seasonal holidays observed by neopaganism. Litha is observed between Beltane and Lughnasadh.

Litha is celebrated on the summer solstice and signifies the winning of Holly King, the king of darkness, over Oak King, the king of light. As the days get shorter and nights get longer after the summer solstice, the balance of power shifts to Holly King and he rules until Yule.

People dance around a huge bonfire to celebrate Litha in traditional style.
Source : pinterest

Historically, Litha was celebrated by making a huge bonfire at a hilltop and dancing while some people tried to jump through and into the fire for good luck and protection. Other traditions include setting a wheel on fire and driving it down the hill into the waterbody, according to Boston Public Library.

In modern Paganism, people often celebrate the festival by trying to mimic the ancient origins but others resort to some drastically different celebrations. As neopaganism varies from place to place, the celebrations are also different between groups.

In addition to celebrating sun and fire, Litha is also believed to be the perfect occasion to get married or perform love magic in neopaganism culture. The observation is called handfasting and has more or less the same practices as a modern-day wedding ceremony.

6. Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh is the first harvest festival celebrated by Neopagans. Lughnasadh is celebrated between Litha and Mabon around August 1 in the northern hemisphere.

The holidays mark the beginning of the harvest season and were celebrated in abundance in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man in the early 20th century. However, the celebration is slowly fading away with just a handful of communities continuing the tradition.

A wild goat and a local girl crowned King and Queen during the Puck Fair while celebrating Lughnasadh.
Source : pinterest

Historically, Lughnasadh was celebrated to honor the death of God Lugh's mother Tailtiu who is believed to have passed away from exhaustion after clearing the vast plains of Ireland for agriculture. The earlier celebration included a funeral feast followed by athletic competitions called Áenach Tailten.

In later times, the festival was attended by kings who made laws and solved disputes. In addition to the athletic part of the celebrations, storytelling, proclamation of law, setting legal disputes, matchmaking, and trial marriages also became an integral part of the Lughnasadh celebration.

In modern times, neopaganism holds ancient traditions while celebrating Lughnasadh. It is also called one of the two auspicious occasions to get married. The modern celebration includes observation of fairs and festivals like the Puck Fair.

Most commonly the festival is celebrated on August 1 in the northern hemisphere and February 1 in the southern hemisphere. However, some neopagans observe the holiday on the astronomical midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.

7. Mabon

Mabon is the mid-harvest festival observed by Neopagans. Mabon in its modern form is a thanksgiving equivalent celebrated by Pagans.

Mabon is a mid-autumn festival and one of the three Sabbats dedicated to harvesting. Pagans celebrated the festival as thanksgiving for the summer crops and second harvest. The second harvest also determined if the family would have enough food for the winter.

A beautifully decorated Altar with apples and seasonal fruits for celebrating Mabon.
Source : pinterest

In contrast to the popular thanksgiving, Mabon is celebrated by thanking gods and goddesses for their blessing resulting in a successful harvest. However, like other Pagan holidays, Mabon is also incomplete without an elaborate feast for the family and friends at the end of the day.

According to Boston Public Library, Mabon was adopted in the 1970s and does not have mentioned in ancient times, the festival was celebrated with a different name back then.

The modern celebration of Mabon includes picking apples as the second harvest and offering them to gods. Similarly, some people celebrate the holiday by setting up an altar with apples, grapes, and seasonal harvests as offerings.

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8. Samhain

Samhain is one of the four major seasonal festivals observed by Pagans. Samhain is observed to celebrate the life of those who have passed away like on Halloween.

The festival is celebrated on 31 October in the northern hemisphere and on May 1 in the southern hemisphere. Samhain is the opposite of Bealtaine as it is celebrated for the dead. 

A woman holds up a wreath in front of a huge bonfire to traditionally celebrate Samhain.
Source : pinterest

In ancient Irish mythology, Samhain was celebrated with a huge feast and gathering of people. The festival observers drank alcoholic beverages and held contests. A bigger feast and gathering would be held every seven years where the king would pass new laws and duties.

The folklores also state a special doorway opens between our world and the world of the dead and they are able to visit the remains. The unworldly supernatural beings are the personification of chaos, destruction, and darkness. 

Samhain is also celebrated with a large bonfire being made on hill or mountain tops. Cattle were shifted down to the winter pastures much lower in the hills from their earlier summer pastures.

Other traditional celebration includes dressing up in costumes or disguises and venturing from house to house singing verses in exchange for food.

Although most neopaganism observers try to mimic the ancient traditions and rituals while celebrating Samhain in modern times, others have drawn inspiration from several other sources heavily modifying their traditions.

What Does The Bible Say About Pagan Holidays?

Pagan holidays in the bible are the addition of traditions without the approval of the all-mighty. Bible warns against adding anything to tradition.

Christmas is now observed around the world as a Christain festival but it is said to have been added by people after blending practices with Paganism, according to Bible Tools.

Similarly, in the Bible verse Deuteronomy 12:32, God clearly said, "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it," warning followers against addition or deduction of the traditions.

Pagan holidays meaning differs from one holiday to another, most of them are celebrated by following the position of the sun in our solar system and each seasonal festival carries its own traditions and meanings. Spring festivals are considered to be based on the fertility of the land while winter festivals honor the souls of the dead.

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