How Did These Holidays Come to be?
Around the 10th Century, Cormac Mac Cárthaigh (Gaelic Irish ruler who served as King of Munster) suggested February, May, August, and November. This is where our Fire festivals come from, which are The Gaelic Holidays.
James Frazer and Margaret Muray influenced the wheel of the year. Sir James George Frazer was a folklorist and a social anthropologist born in 1854 died in 1941. In his book The Gold Bough, he claims that Beltain and Samhain are the most important Festivals mentioned by Cormac. Margaret Murray was a historian and Folklorist born in 1863 died in 1963. She wrote about the festivals. Their connection to an underground pagan religion from the early witch trials claimed that they would hold meetings every Quarter on Candlemas, Rudday, Lambemas, and Hallomas. In her mind connecting these to the Gaelic Fire Festivals. Then we have Rober Graves a writer born in 1895 and died 1985. In his book The White Goddess, he claimes that Candlemas, Lady Day, May Day, Midsummer Day, Lammas, Michaelmas, All-Hallowe’en, and Christmas are all festivals dating back to the celts.
Then we have Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols. Ross Nichols, born in 1902 and died in 1975, was an academic who founded the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Gerald Gardner born in 1884 and died in 1964, was an amateur anthropologist founder of the Gardnerian Wicca. Both adopted the Wheel of the Year. Garder wanted the solstice/equinox days, as these days are thought to be days the Anglo-Saxons worshipped as some academics suggest. Furthermore, Ross wanted the Gaelic fire festival. They eventually decided to unite them into a single cycle resulting in the coined term The Wheel of The year in the 1960s.
There is a lot of Wicca’s influence in the Modern pagan movement and the Contemporary Druid movements. This is because the folks back in the day were the leading voices in these groups. This is why we see the fire festival days with different names. The Wiccans use the four “Greater Sabbats,” Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe’en, also identified as May eve, August eve, November eve (Hallowe’en), and February eve. The Neo-Druids and Gaelic Polytheist use Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh, and Samhain. With the Solstice/Equinox days, most folks assume that the ancients did because we celebrate these days. We have no proof they did or did not? As time went on things have been added to the Holidays a lot of the Solstice/Equinox day taken on more Welsh themes.
The Wheel of the Year
These are the Holidays for the Neo Druids. There are eight holidays for the Neo Druids. Four are Solstice/Equinox days and Four fire festivals.
These Holidays within the wheel of the Year are a mix of Gaelic and Welsh Holidays. The Gaelic Holidays are the fire festivals and midpoints between the Solstice/Equinox days. Also, these Four are the Gaelic Polytheist Holidays.
Welsh, these are part of the Druids’ revival period, mainly in Wales. These days are the Solstice/Equinox days.
Samhuinn – November 1 – This is the first part of the dark half of the year. Summer has ended, and the last harvest is brought in, and the livestock is butchered and the meat salted and stored. This is the time the gates to the otherworld are open. Celebrating the ancestors and connecting to the spirits of the deceased. The deceased are honored with feasts.
Alban Arthur / Winter Solstice – December 21 Winter Solstice – This is the second of our dark half of the year. This is a time of darkness and decay—this a time of relaxation and reflection. We put light around to bring light into the darkness—a time of burning the winter log and giving gifts.
Imbolc – February 1 – 2 – This is the third part of the dark half. The days are getting longer Signs of growth are in the air as winter comes slowly to an end. The hearth goddess is worshiped when most folks see Brighid as the protector of the hearth and house. A fire is lit in her honor.
Alban Eiler/Eilir / Spring Equinox – March 21 Spring Equinox – This is the first of our balanced days. The night and day are equal at this time. We are heading to the light half of the year as the day becomes longer. Time to plant our ideas and let them grow along with our seeds for the season. This is the transformation for all things as the earth and her creatures shake the cold off and let the warmth come. This time has another name Ostara. Its origins came from Germanic origins and were associated with the goddess Eostre, where the word Easter comes from.(edited)
Beltinne – May 1 – This is the first part of the light half of the year. Fertility is in the air, and bonfires are lit. The Veil between the otherworlds is open again, but instead of celebrating death like Samhuinn, it celebrates life.
Alban Hefin/Heruin / Summer Solstice – June 21 Summer Solstice -This is the second half of the light half of the year. This is the longest day of the year—time to celebrate the height of the growing season. The days will become shorter now.
Lughnasadh – August 1 – This is the third part of the Light half. Harvest has started, and festivals of the first harvest are celebrated for the bounty and future bounty of the land. Sacrifices to the land are common during this time.
Alban Elfed / Fall Equinox – September 22 Autumn Equinox – This is the second balanced day of the year. Also, when the dark half of the year starts to take over. The second of the 3 harvest festivals. (Lughnassadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain) harvest is here, and we can see the world around us start to change. So we prepare for winter to go and start to wrap all our tasks up. So look at the goals you set and did you accomplish them.
The above are just basic definitions of these days. Different Druid Orders celebrate these days slightly differently from one another.
What about Recon Druid Holidays
Recon Druids do not celebrate these days as they are above in the Wheel of the Year. They would celebrate their own cultures, traditions/customs holidays. They would celebrate the same days as the rest of their tradition with the people. They would not have separate days.