What Are the Major Wiccan Holidays, Rituals, & Sabbats?
Wiccan holidays are based on the major solar and lunar events on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
Wiccan rituals for the Sabbats, for instance, celebrate the Sun's influence on the Earth -- that is, the seasonal growing cycle.
Wiccan Esbats honour the phases of the Moon, particularly the Full Moon.
Most of the Wiccan holidays are similar to celebrations in other religions. For instance, Yule and Christmas correspond so closely, they are almost interchangeable.
There's a simple reason for this. Paganism predates these religions, and influenced their development.
Here is a list of the eight major Wiccan holidays, or Wiccan Sabbats as they are celebrated today. (See the Note on Dates, below.)
WITCH TIP: Please note that this is for the Northern Hemisphere. See also Wiccan Holidays for the Southern Hemisphere.
Pagan New Year, Honouring the Dead, Cleansing and releasing
~ Dec 21
Rebirth, Life triumphs over death
Purification, Initiation, Dedication
~ Mar 21
Conception, Regeneration, New Beginnings
Passion that fuels Life, Joy, Fertility
~ Jun 21
Gratitude, Abundance, Fruition
Thanksgiving (Second Harvest)
~ Sep 21
Giving thanks, Reflection
Wiccan Rituals on the Sabbats
On all of these occasions it is customary for a Wiccan to do rituals. (And there are other reasons for Wiccan rituals too, such as blessings, healing, initiation, and life passages.)
It doesn't really matter whether you celebrate a Sabbat on your own or with others, in a quiet gathering or a full-drama ritual.
What matters is that you . . .
Honour the Divine in every aspect of life,
Take the opportunity to recharge your spiritual batteries, and
Align yourself with the Earth's shifting energies.
WITCH TIP: While I do give some ideas to build a Sabbat ritual on, I don't usually give Ritual Plans here. There are enough sources that do that, I think... plus I believe that your original ritual will be more potent and satisfying than a paint-by-numbers type.
So read the information, and let it inspire you! Your soul knows what it wants to do. : )
A Note On Dates
The Wiccan day is considered to start at sundown on the previous day.
In other words, Beltane is celebrated on May 1st. For Witches, that day starts on the evening of April 30... May Eve.
However, in common practice Witches often go by the Julian calendar for the sake of convenience, and celebrate on May 1st.
Each Circle, or each Witch, will have their own method.
The Wiccan Wheel of the Year, given above, represents the most common dates that Witches celebrate the Sabbats.
It doesn't mean that these are the historical dates.
Using a Julian-based calendar gives us dates that don't align with the Lunar as well as Solar phases. For example, it seems that Samhain was celebrated at the full (or perhaps the dark) moon nearest November 1 (or the 11th or 12th moon)
It's also possible that historically the pagan rituals would have followed an agricultural calendar more than a Solar one. For instance, Midsummer might have been celebrated near the beginning of August rather than at Summer Solstice.
I haven't found definitive answers to these issues.
Nonetheless, what you are likely concerned with is when Wiccan Sabbats are celebrated today.