The wheel of the year is a collection of witchcraft holidays over the year. Traditionally, practicing witches celebrates eight Sabbats each year consisting of four astronomical holidays (the equinoxes and solstices) and four traditional holidays.
Sabbats are celebrated by witches to mark harvest days, deity remembrances, and cross-quarter days. The wheel of the year is honored because it is considered a meaningful way to connect with nature and the passing of time.
The Eight Sabbats
Samhain (October 31)
For a lot of people, October 31 is celebrated in costumes and spooky activities. For witches, October 31 is a sabbatical day of the Samhain, a holiday that marks the summer’s ends and a day of tribute to the dead. Samhain is a time to feast and commune with ancestors and honored spirits, both known and unknown.
How witches celebrate Samhain:
During the Samhain, witches cast off the year’s attachments and accomplishments, purging the ego and the spirit of negative thoughts, self-limiting beliefs, and material bounty. It is basically a time when witches become friends with death.
Witches also feast in the Samhain by eating sweets to symbolize the sweetness of life and its impermanence. Often, modern witches blend in with the Halloween crowd and are seen in costumes with jack-o-lanterns filled with candies.
Yule (December 21)
Yule is considered to be the beginning of the year for witches. Yule marks the shortest day and the longest night, the point when days will start growing longer again — until the height of the sun’s power comes around again during the midsummer.
How witches celebrate Yule:
The Yuletide season is a time for celebrating the return of light after the darkest and coldest season of the year. The winter solstice is also honored because many believe that more than one god was born during this year.
Yule is a time of rebirth after having died during the Samhain. It is a period of awakening and renewal of life. Witches celebrate the season by decorating their altars and homes with evergreen branches, bright sprigs, and ornamental decorations in the colors of red, green, white, and gold.
Imbolc (February 1)
Imbolc marks the blooming of spring and the time of preparation for the planting season. It is a season to reassess the land, modify operations, and set new goals. Imbolc is a time for new projects, businesses, and negotiations. For witches, Imbolc is a festival of purification.
How witches celebrate Imbolc:
During Imbolc, witches clean their altars and reattune their tools to guide them in reaching their full potential in the remaining days to come. In the modern-day, Imbolc is also a time to declutter the home and discard items that no longer have a use.
Ostara (Spring Equinox, March 21)
Ostara is a relatively pagan cousin of the Easter celebration. It is also the second celebration of fertility when beauty, fertility, and blessings become more evident. During this time, flowers bloom and symbols of fertility can be seen in forests, parks, and even in grocery aisles.
How witches celebrate Ostara:
During Ostara, witches reevaluate their goals and achievements and realign themselves with their priorities. Continually pouring effort towards a goal may be hindering you in seeing the overview of the situation. This period is the best time to check on what is working, what isn’t, and what can improve your pace to reach your goals.
Beltane (May 1)
Beltane is a fire festival and the third and last of the celebration of fertility. It is a celebration that’s sexual in nature. Mythically, Beltane represents the unity of the Sun god and the Great goddess’ energies through lovemaking — the creation of the holy child who will be born at Yule.
How witches celebrate Beltane:
Witches celebrate Beltane by decorating their altar with the images of the sun god and great goddess. During this time, witches honor both female and masculine energies, the yin and the yang. Because of the balance of both powerful energies during Beltane, witches consider this period as the best time for divination and spellwork.
Litha (June 21)
Litha or the summer solstice is a celebration of the longest day and shortest night of the year. It is when the Sun is at its most powerful state when its light is believed to have the power to cast off all negative energies in one’s auric field.
How witches celebrate Litha:
Litha is a celebration of light and bounty. Witches honor the sun by feasting on garden-fresh food and decorating their home with solar symbols. Alternatively, farmers use this period to mark the beginning of the harvest.
Lammas (August 1)
Lammas is the continuation of the Litha celebration and is named as the first harvest festival in the pagan calendar. During this time, the sun god is believed to start losing his strength to feed and nourish the people.
How witches celebrate Lammas:
For farmers, Lammas marks the time for reaping grain from the land. On the other hand, witches celebrate Lammas by feasting on loaves of freshly baked bread and other fruits from harvest. During this time, agricultural markets and trade fairs are fairly evident in the local scene.
Mabon (September 21)
The autumn equinox is called the second harvest when autumn fruits, nuts, and vegetables reach maturity. It is the turning point of the year that marks the nearing of the winter season. Mabon is a time for gratitude and recognition for the rewards reaped during the harvest season.
How witches celebrate Mabon:
Witches celebrate Mabon just as Christians celebrate Thanksgiving. Mabon is a time for gathering and unconditionally sharing what you have reaped with others. During this time, witches gather and host potlucks with offerings of wine, fruits, and boughs.