, a Sabbat
is one of the eight major seasonal festivals which make up the Wheel of the Year
. These include the solstices and equinoxes, and four additional festivals sometimes referred to as the "cross-quarter days". The word derives from "sabbath
Many neopagans in the Northern Hemisphere recognize the following Sabbats:
- Samhain (pronounced "sah-vin") (New Year), on or near October 31 or November 1 or when the sun reaches 15 degrees Scorpio
- Yule, the winter solstice, occurs when the sun reaches its southernmost point, between December 20 and December 23
- Imbolc (Oimelc, Brigid, or Candlemas), February 1 or 2 or when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius
- Ostara, the vernal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator moving northward, occurs March 20-23
- Beltane, May 1 or when the sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus
- Litha, the summer solstice, when the sun reaches its northernmost point, June 20-23
- Lammas, (Lughnasadh, pronounced "loo-nuh-saa"), August 1 or when the sun reaches 15 degrees Leo;
- Mabon, the autumnal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator moving southward, September 20-23
In the Southern Hemisphere, most Pagans advance these dates six months to coincide with the seasons; for example, an Australian Pagan will celebrate Beltane on November 1, when a Canadian Pagan is celebrating Samhain.
Spellings differ slightly and most Pagans are somewhat flexible about dates, tending to celebrate at the nearest weekend for convenience.
Most witches also hold smaller rituals, alone or with a coven, Lodge, or Circle, monthly, often at each full moon. Wiccans call these Esbats. Sometimes rituals are held at the dark moon as well. In many traditions, Moon meetings are working or study meetings instead of festivals.
Druid and Heathen festivals have different names entirely. (Druids only name the "fire festivals" differently - i.e., the equinoxes and solstices. The rest are the same.) Druids do not order their meetings by the moon but also hold regular working and study meetings.
Pagans usually also observe secular holidays in their culture, and sometimes festivals from majority religions - for example, participating in Christmas gatherings if the rest of their family does so - although they do not usually commemorate these holidays by rituals in their or another religion.