Celtic Celebrations

We honour all cultural traditions & celebrations of Ireland which have carried on through the generations throughout our beautiful land.

The beautiful thing about the celebrations on our Celtic calendar is that although the purpose and essence of the celebrations is the same, each can be celebrated in so many different ways, depending on which local area you are in. So don’t worry about what you might hear from others, or read in books. There is never a “right” or “wrong” way to celebrate the traditional celebrations of the Celtic calendar, only the way it is done in a certain local area. Every way is the right way.

Of course its a natural instinct in us as humans to honour and mimic the cultural traditions of our ancestors. This is why so many traditions are handed down through the generations. But you may see variations here and there, but it doesn’t mean one is wrong and one is right. All traditions are right, according to the local area where they come from.

Ceremonial traditions can vary from area to area as well. The words spoken, the activities conducted. The only thing that remains the same is the history, origins, reason and purpose of the celebration.

The Celtic calendar focuses on celebrating the change of seasons, as that was always very important to our ancestors who lived in harmony with nature and the land.

Pictured: Ireland’s national summer solstice celebrations at our sacred Hill of Tara 2017. 
Opening and closing ceremony by our Rev. Sharon Q, by invitation.

IMBOLC / CANDLEMAS (February 2) (Cross-quarter, Fire Festival)

Imbolc is a festival of fire and light, and in  celtic traditions celebrates the Celtic hearth goddess, Brigid. It marks the midpoint between winter and spring. This is a festival of purification, a festival of light and fertility, and new beginnings.

OSTARA / SPRING EQUINOX (March 20-23) (Quarter Festival, Equinox)
Ostara is the celebration of the spring equinox, and is a time to prepare for the beginnings of new life each year. The hours of day and night are equal, and light is overtaking darkness. Also known as Alban Eilir (the Light of the Earth).

BEALTAINE / MAY DAY (May 1) (Cross-quarter, Fire Festival)
Bealtaine is a spring celebration that honours the fertility of the earth.  A time of celebration, fire, and abundance.

LITHA / MIDSUMMER / SUMMER SOLSTICE (June 20-23) (Quarter Festival, Solstice)
Litha is the time of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. It’s a celebration of light’s triumph over darkness and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into our lives. Also known as Alban Hefin (the Light of the Shore).

LUGHNASADH / LAMMAS (August 1) (Cross-quarter, Fire Festival)
Lughnasadh (LOO-na-saa) is a celebration in honour of the Celtic god, Lugh. For others, this festival is observed as Lammas, and celebrates the early grain harvest. This is the first harvest festival, when plants drop their seeds to ensure future crops.   Also the time for the traditional “crossroads  dance” where villagers would gather at the crossroads to play music, eat, celebrate and be merry!  This celebration is still carried on to this day by certain country villages.

MABON / AUTUMN EQUINOX (September 20-23) (Quarter Festival, Equinox)
Mabon is a time of thanksgiving that celebrates the second harvest, and the autumn equinox. The days and nights are once again equal, with the night continuing to grow longer. Also known as Alban Elfed (Light of the Water).

SAMHAIN (October 31) (Cross-quarter, Fire Festival)
Samhain (SOW-in) represents the final harvest before the long winter. It’s a time to honor our ancestors and embrace the darker half of the year. This also marks the beginning of the New Year in the celtic tradition.

YULE / MIDWINTER / WINTER SOLSTICE (December 20-23) (Quarter Festival, Solstice)
Yule marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From now on, the days become longer and we celebrate the return of the sun back to the earth. Also known as Alban Arthan (the Light of Arthur).