Want to find out how pagans celebrate your birthday? From roman fertility orgies on December 24th to druid blood rituals on October 31st, we’ve got all the hellenic, northern tradition and euro-pagan festivals and celebrations for 2008 in one package. We’re talking massively comprehensive. Bring it!
This calendar combines the most significant festivals, rituals and holidays for a collection of Pagan religions rooted in Europe. Those concerned are the Asatru, Wicca, Hellenic, Druidic and Celtic practices. Although there are other Euro-Pagan religions, such as Eastern Germanic and Roman, they have a tendency to share key dates and themes with these religions. However, their exclusion from this calendar is more due to a matter of length and certainly has no intention of undermining the individuality of these other religions.
All dates given here are placed against the modern calendar system, but have been directly adapted from the old calendar systems of the peoples they came from. In some instances this means that a date is settled upon for ease of reference due to there being significant differences in the original dating systems. The most notable applies to the Hellenic festivals here, which are all based on the old Athenian calendar system as they would apply for the year 2008. The Athenian calendar was significantly different to our own and the dates of festivals could be anywhere from a few days to over a week different from one year to the next. However, based on the continuation of that calendar from ancient times, the dates given here are accurately accorded for 2008, as they would have been for the ancient Greeks themselves. But when considering the Hellenic dates, please keep in mind that the Greek calendar system classes a day as sunset to sunset, which means that by our calendar all dates would start on the sunset of one day and then end on the sunset of the next day. So spanning two days by our standard, though still just 24 hours. As such, the dates given here for the Hellenic holidays begin in the daylight hours, when most people in the Western world are likely to be up and able to use them. If you wish to be doubly accurate in celebrating these Greek dates, then you should begin your celebrations on the night before each date given.
Smaller events, such as the regular monthly sacrifices to individual Greek Gods have been left out of this calendar. However, if you wish to include them then I would advice doing them on the days that best suit you.
The details of some of these ancient practices describe consumption of alcohol and similar acts that are best left out until you are of a legal age. Other things like animal sacrifices obviously aren’t all to applicable today, but a creative Pagan can often find suitable alternative ways to give offerings to their Gods, so I would recommend using your imagination and examining the cultures that those Gods come from in order to get some good ideas.
In some cases details of all these events haven’t survived to the modern day, but the best efforts have been made to try and provide as much as we do know about these holidays, combined with the guess work of some of our best scholarly minds.
All dates given here can be re-used year after year, with the exception of the Hellenic ones, which change slightly from year to year. If you wish to update your calendar times for these changes, then I recommend this websites, which will be able to take you all the way through to the year 3221 (not that you will really need to go that far):
This site has been an excellent resource to me in establishing the correct dates for these Hellenic holidays.
This calendar runs from January to December, however please keep in mind that this doesn’t represent the start and end of the year as according to the religions below. The ASATRU New Year begins December 22, the Wiccan New Year begins October 31, and the Hellenic New Year begins July 4 (in 2008).
3rd January – Snowmoon 3, Charming of the Plow:
Northern European agricultural ritual. Sky Father and Earth Mother are called upon to accept offerings of grains and cakes. Honour Odin, Frigga and the spirits of the land so that they will keep the Earth plentiful over the coming seasons.
9th January – Snowmoon 9, Day of Remembrance for Raud the Strong:
Raud the Strong was sentenced to death by King Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, by forcing a snake down his throat. This was punishment for his refusal to abandon the old Gods and convert to Christianity. On this day he is commemorated.
21st January to 24th January, Lenaia:
A lesser festival of Athens and Ionia. This is a festival of Dionysus, celebrating his rebirth from the Underworld. The Lenaia celebrations involve the enactment of plays and the rendition of poetry, both with a leaning towards comedy.
25th January – Snowmoon 25, Thorrablot:
The Icelandic Mid-Winter Feast. This day is sacred to Thor and the Icelandic Winter Spirit of Thorri. Today is marked by a blot and the consumption of traditional Viking foods. However, “Thorrablot” means “starvation time blot” and is a time to show one’s strength against starvation. As such, it may be considered appropriate for the asatruar to go without food for this day and celebrate with a feast at the end.
1st February, Imbolc (Candlemass):
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
Imbolc is the second Major Sabbat of the Wiccan year (which begins at Samhain, October 31st). At this time the first stirrings of life can be seen in the land and Spring is returning, reflecting the recently reborn God and the Goddess’ return as the Maiden after childbirth. For modern Druids and modern Celts, this time celebrates the growth of the Sun’s power and the return of life. Imbolc is sacred to Brighid, the patron Goddess of crafts and sacred flame, who is seen to bring the first stirrings of life to the land.
2nd February – Horning 2, Barri:
A festival of fertility and growth, which may be celebrated by the planting of seeds ready for Summer. This is the time which celebrates the marriage of the God Freyr to the giantess Gerd, who personifies the fertile soil of the Earth.
5th February, Theogamia:
The Theogamia is a festival honouring the marriage anniversary of the Goddess Hera to the God Zeus.
9th February – Horning 9, Day of Remembrance for Eyvind Kinnrifi:
This day celebrates another ASATRU martyr. Eyvind Kinnrifi was killed by King Olaf Tryggvason, for refusing to convert from the old Gods. His punishment was to be tortured to death by placing a bowl of red hot embers on his stomache.
14th February – Horning 14, Feast of Vali:
This time once marked a feast which celebrated the death of Hothr at the hands of Vali. However, this time also became synonamous with celebrating the triumph of the sun, as light conquers dark. This is also a time of love, as it is customary to give gifts to loved ones and renew marriage vows.
19th February, Anthesteria Pithiogia:
This is a “jar opening” celebration. This festival marks Dionysus’ return from the sea and is celebrated by opening jars of wine (or bottles these days) and drinking them in the manner taught to the Greeks by Dionysus. This is a day of complete celebration.
20th February, Anthesteria Khoes:
This festival is a major drinking celebration for which all shrines are solemnly covered and temples are closed, except the Temple of Dionysus. Alongside this melancholy activity drinking games and celebrations are had, where even children as young as three can be expected to taste wine. Indeed, a child’s first drink of wine at this time is considered a significant rite of passage.
21st February, Anthesteria Khutroi:
The final day of the three days of Anthesteria completely solemn and Dionysus is seen as the dark God of the underworld. The dead are free to roam the Earth at this time. Here, Dionysus is the son of Persephone, but he is mostly absent from these celebrations and instead all regard is given to his brother, Hermes.
As the dead are free to wander, now is the time to pay them consideration.
28th February, first day of the Lesser Mysteries:
The festival of the Lesser Mysteries is a rite of Initiation for those who are willing to take their first step into the Eleusinian Mysteries. Sources show that dramatic acts were held in ancient times to reveal the hidden truths of the soul in its mortal body.
5th March, last day of the Lesser Mysteries:
The culmination of the Lesser Mystery Celebrations.
9th March – Lenting 9, Day of Remembrance for Oliver the Martyr:
Oliver was an underground leader in ancient times, who organized secret rituals to the old Gods and Goddesses. King Olaf had made such rituals illegal and so when he was informed of these rituals, he arranged the deaths such practitioners. Oliver was caught in the village of Maerin, Norway, while preparing a Spring ritual. He was killed and many like him met with horrid fates, being either killed, mutilated or, if they were lucky, exiled.
16th March, Asklepieia:
Festival honoring the God Asklepios, God of healing, and Hygieia, Goddess of health. This event would be celebrated with a large feast and a sacrifice.
18th March, first day of Dionusia ta astika:
The Greater Dionysia. This eight day festival celebrates the God Dionysus and is the largest of his festivals. This holiday is celebrated through dramatic contests and feasts of beef and wine. The phallus is exalted and often depicted in foods and crafts, while people dance, sing and enjoy themselves.
21st March, Eostara – Spring Equinox:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
At this time the Wiccan Goddess is young and full of wonder, like the emergent natural world itself. She is young and carefree, while the God is young and wild and at this time they celebrate together. It is the beginning of their romance.
In Druidry this is a time for acknowledging the budding of plants and celebrating new growth. This event is only celebrated by a small number of modern Celts, as more importance is placed on the four major holidays of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh, but for those few this time is often seen as a celebration of coming fertility. However, there is little of no evidence that the ancient Celts had any kind of major celebration at this time.
21st March – Lenting 21, High Feast of Ostara:
This time celebrates the Spring Equinox and the end of winter, when nature is reborn. Rituals at this time honor Frigga, Freya, and Nerthus with a blot and feast, featuring the pouring of libations of mead into the Earth. But you may also honour the Goddess Sunna, who is the Sun, at her most powerful following the shortest night of the year, though the days will now get shorter.
25th March, last day of Dionusia ta astika:
Culmination of the Dionusia ta astika.
25th March, Pandia:
Celebration of the Goddess Pandia. Pandia is the personification of brightness, as depicted by the Moon and maybe the Sun as well. This festival may also celebrate Zeus and Selene, who are said to be her parents.
28th March – Lenting 28, Ragnar Lodbrok Day:
Ragnar Lodbrok is a great Viking of whom a saga was written. In the Runic Year of 1145, on Easter Sunday, he raided Paris, earning himself a place of prestige that is celebrated today.
9th April – Ostara 9, Day of Remembrance for Jarl Hakon of Norway:
King Jarl Hakon was a ruler within the Nordic West. Under his rule he reestablished the worship of the Old Gods and ejected Christianity from his realm. He is honoured for his deeds and for planting the seeds that would help form
in the modern day.
12th April, Delphinia
This is a ceremony to honour the God Apollo and mark part of the mythic journey of Theseus. Traditionally, a group of maidens would offer consecrated branches to Apollo.
15th April – Ostara 15, Sigrblot/Sumarsdag:
This celebration marks the beginning of Summer, in accordance with the old Icelandic calendar. At this time sacrifices are made to Odin, in order to seek blessings in the coming Summer.
22nd April – Ostara 22, Yggdrasil Day:
A day to remember and revere Yggdrasil, the World Tree. This is a time to reflect upon its meaning and the part it plays in the
spirituality and Yggdrasil holds true to the world of man.
22nd April, Mounukhia:
A festival to honour Artemis, the Goddess of the Moon and lady of the hunt. In ancient times this honouring would have been made through the sacrifice of a goat and a procession carries Amphiphontes cakes. These “shining all round” cakes are circular and illuminated form all sides and may be mounted with dadia (small torches. These days, candles in the cakes will suffice.
25th April, Olumpeia:
The Olumpeia is a festival held in honour of the God Zeus, head of the Olympian pantheon. It is difficult to ascertain exactly what practices would have been most common for this holiday and how the Cults of Zeus would have viewed it, but we can find inspiration in classical Greek sources.
According to Homer, Hesiod and Pausanias, it was common for animals to be sacrificed to Zeus. Homer, in the Illiad, suggests boar and lambs, while Pausanias suggests an ox. However, equally common across the writings of Homer, Pausanias and Antiphon, are offerings of libations which are poured into the ground with prayer. So one could celebrate this holiday with toasts of wine, part of which is poured into the Earth.
But it is also worth keeping in mind that many Cults of Zeus were located at Olympus, which is generally considered the centre of worship to Zeus. This was also where the Olympic games were held and so celebrations of physical prowess could also be considered appropriate.
30th April, Beltane:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
For Wiccans and Celts this time celebrates the sacred marriage of their God and Goddess, and then the sexual union of these two. Indeed, it is a very sexual time for followers of the Wicca. By tradition, they jump the broomstick for fertility and Pagans in general may enjoy the dance of the Maypole, as the pole is a phallic image and the weaving of the Maypole is symbolically appropriate for the marriage of the God and Goddess.
To the Celts, Beltane was the polar opposite of Samhain and yet it was celebrate in similar fashion, with the lighting of fires and a perceived thinning between the worlds, but one through which the Faerie folk may easily pass. The cosmic boar hunt also features here and the conquest of the God Culhwch over the boar is a symbol of both the victory of life and of the highpoint of life.
This is a season of light for all three of these religious paths and is a time of merriment, feasting, sexual frolicking, hunting and worship. The Gods and Goddesses that are worshipped vary, but common ones are Bel (hence Beltane), Cernunnos, Blathnat and Blodeuwedd
30th April – Ostara 30, Walburg:
This holiday of Walburg, also known as Walpurgisnacht, is a time to consider the and pay honour to the vessel of the Earth, especially as it embodied by Goddesses like Hel and Frigg. In this way the Earth is not only a source of life, but also the repository for our ancestors, the place where the dead shall go. So at this time it is appropriate to give thought to our honored dead, friends and family who have gone before, but also the noble heroes who have made a difference in our lives and for the ASATRU faith.
As a gesture, you may offer libations to the Earth, by pouring offerings of mead upon it, to honour the Earth and those that dwell within it.
1st May – Merrymoon 1, May Day:
The Spring is truly here and the land is filled with the richness of life. This is a time to celebrate the gifts of Freya. Traditionally, there would be celebrations across the majority of Europe at this time, as Summer is acknowledged in merriment.
9th May – Merrymoon 9, Day of Remembrance for Guthroth:
Guthroth was a king who defied Olaf Tryggvason by questioning his dictates and resigning to worship his ancestral Gods, rather than convert to Christianity. For his words he was sentenced to never speak again, because Olaf had Guthroth’s tongue cut out. On this day Guthroth is honoured for his sacrifice and nobility.
12th May to 13th May, Thargelia:
This is a festival to the God Apollo (and according to some, Artemis, as well). One of the bloodier ceremonies of ancient Athens, the Thargelia began with an act of human sacrifice. This was the ritual of pharmakos, in which a scapegoat such as a criminal was well fed and then sacrificed in order to cleanse the city.
Of course, these days this kind of ritual is completely inappropriate, but luckily there are other rituals that we can safely recreate. As a harvest festival, the first fruits gathered would be given as an offering to the Gods, so today we may make similar offerings such as fruit and grain.
20th May – Merrymoon 20, Frigga Blot:
As the name suggests this celebration is dedicated to Frigg. She is given thanks for all her gifts of Spring and her stories may be celebrated at this Blot.
The Pros Edda describes her as “the foremost among the Goddess”, she is the wife of Odin and so should be paid the proper respects. She is regarded by the Eddas as having powers of prophecy, though she keeps visions to herself. As such this may be a good time to cast the Runes for personal affairs.
25th May, Bendideia:
The festival of Bendis, a Thracian Goddess, who is sometimes identified as Artemis by the Greeks. She was depicted as holding two spears and most often worshipped in the sea-port of Peiraeeus.
According to Plato, this festival was celebrated with a feast held in great decorum and propriety, a procession and a horseback torch race in the evening.
31st May, Kallunteria & Plunteria:
This is a time of spring cleaning, when temples would be tidied and washed. Shrines would receive regular upkeep, replacing any damaged items or decoration, while everything is swept and polished. Any effigies of the Goddess would be taken to the seashore and cleaned, before having her clothes replaced with fresh ones.
Feasting also occurred and the traditional cake was the hêgêtêría, which is a cake of pressed figs.
7th June, Arrephoria:
The Arrephoria was a festival to Athena, connected to the Athenian Mysteries. Due to the semi-secret nature of this rite, combined with there being a degree of disagreement regarding the roles of other Gods in the proceedings, it is hard to determine the exact nature of this practice. However, we do know that this rite was enacted by a small group of maidens, each of whom may have represented different aspects of Athena. These young girls, along with a small selection of older women, were responsible for weaving the robes of Athena. In addition it was customary at this time for one or two of the girls, who was newly entering the temple life, to carry into the temple a sealed package or basket containing secret items. When their term in the temple was finished, they would then carry it out again, as others carried in their own packages to replace them.
8th June – Midyear 8, Lindisfarne Day:
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 793 A.D:
“In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria. There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and on January 8th the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God’s church at Lindesfarne.”
This event officially marked the beginning of The Viking Age and it is today that this raid on Lindisfarne is remembered.
9th June – Midyear 9, Day of Remembrance for Sigurd the Volsung:
Sigurd is the hero of Norse mythology. His story is recorded in Runic carvings across Sweden and he is also the central figure of the Volsunga Saga. He is a dragon slayer, a mighty warrior and wooer of the Valkyrie Brynhild. On this day his tales are celebrated.
16th June, Skira:
Continuing this month’s dedication to Athena is the festival of Skira (also known as Skiraphoria). Skira is celebrated most directly by Women, who attempted to bring fertility to the land by abstaining from sex. At this time they would also eat cakes shaped like phalluses. For the men, a race between the sanctuary of Dionysus and the temple of Athene Skiras was run, carrying vine branches. The prize in this race was the Fivefold Cup, which was filled wine, honey, cheese, corn and olive oil. This drink was shared with the Goddess in the form of a libation.
18th June, Bouphonia & Dipolieia:
The Dipolieia is an unusual rite, designed to worship Zeus as the God of the City. In this ritual, a bull was fed on wheat and barley that had been placed upon the ritual altar as an offering to Zeus. When the Bull began to eat it was slaughtered by a priest, using a pole axe. After the bull was dead, the priest ran from the scene and the dropped pole axe was tried for murder in his place. The Bouphonia (which is really inseperable from the Dipolieia) is a more reflective practice. It is an inward looking festival that examines the concepts of community, citizenship and communal sacrifice.
19th June – Midyear 19, ASATRU Alliance Founding Day:
Quite simply, this day marks the founding of the ASATRU Alliance. This date is significant to modern ASATRU as it is the time in which the what we call ASATRU today was brought together and in a manner designed to venerate and preserve the ways of the Old Gods and their people.
21st June, Litha – Summer Solstice:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
This time of year is less significant to both ancient Celts and modern Celts, and there are few pre-Christian sources that place that much relevance on it. By all accounts this time of year was overshadowed by the previous feast of Beltane in the Celtic world and most of the activities at this time were more like Beltane activities that were also done at this time.
But for Wiccans and Druids this time holds greater individual significance. This is Midsummer, the longest day of the year and although this may have been a significant time of harvest preparation for the ancient Celts, for modern day Wiccans it also symbolizes the exchange of power from the light half of the year to the dark half. Now the world begins its decline and it is the time that the shift in power moves in favor of the Dark God.
21st June, Midyear 21, Midsummer:
Midsummer is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. From here on out the nights will get longer and thusly the time begins to draw on where it would become gradually more difficult for Norsemen to make sea-voyages.
At this time it is appropriate to revere the Goddess Sanna, the Goddess of the Sun, for this is the time when she is at her most powerful, but will soon be going into decline. Feast to her and pay revelry to the season.
4th July, Noumenia & beginning of New Year:
Noumenia occurs on the first day of each month at the New Moon. This is the first Noumenia of the Athenian Calendar, thusly it is the only one mentioned here, but it should be observed every Athenian New Moon, to mark the start of each month. In Athens this observance was so sacred that no other rituals or observances were allowed to be performed on the Noumenia every month. In 2008, the Athenian New Year falls on July 4th, marking the first day of the fourth year of the 696th Olympiad.
4th July – Haymoon 4, Founder’s Day:
This day is to give reverence to the founders of modern ASATRU; H. Rud Mills of Australia, Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson and Thorsteinn Guthjonson of Iceland.
9th July – Haymoon 9 – Day of Remembrance for Aud the Deep Minded:
Aud is an interesting character featuring in several Norse Sagas. She was a Christian woman from Norway, who married the Viking Sea-king, Olaf the White, of Dublin. Olaf was named King of Irleand, but following his death it is said that Aud traveled the British Isles forming a dynasty for herself, by marrying her daughters to wealthy land owners and men of influence. After this she retired to Iceland.
15th July, Kronia:
This festival honours Cronus in his role as a God of Agriculture. It is a harvest festival that occurs after the final grain harvest. At this time roles and restraints are temporarily left behind, as all levels of society are welcome to celebrate the festival, with slaves given the freedom to take part along side their masters. This is a reflection of the mythical Golden Age of humanity, when it is said that there were no slaves and all men were equal. The mythology of Cronus is also commemorated at this festival and modern worshippers may wish to offer gifts of food, prayer and sport to Cronus.
18th July to 19th July, Sunoikia:
According to Thucydides, this festival was held “in honour of the Goddess Athena” to celebrate “the union of the communes”. This day marks the work of Theseus in bringing together the twelve towns of Attica, in order to create a unified community.
26th July, first day of Panathanaia ta mikra:
This is the sacred feast that celebrates the birth of Athena. According to tradition, this is the day upon which the Goddess Athena sprang forth from the head of Zeus. As a celebration of Athena’s birthday, all Gods and Goddesses of the Olympian pantheon are thought to be in attendance, so that God and mortals may celebrate this event together. This celebration lasts for eight days straight and consists of feasting, processions, dancing and offerings to Athena.
29th July – Haymoon 29 – Stikklestad Day:
On this day
commemorate the death of Olaf the Law Breaker. Olaf was a war monger who fought the Danes in England and upon returning to Norway, he declared himself king and killed not only the resident kings, but also saw to it that anyone who would not convert to Christianity was also killed. Eventually he was driven from Norway when the nobles rallied around Knut the Great. He attempted to reclaim his throne a year later, but was killed at the battle of Stikklestad.
1st August, Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-nassa):
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
The time of the first harvest. With the onset of Autumn, the crops are now at their most bountiful and with the decline of the Earth it is the time to gather them in. The Wiccan God becomes the Corn King, ruler of the harvest who is willingly sacrificed for the good of all and symbolically consumed by feasting and drinking.
For Celts and Druids it is the time for the marriage of the God Lugh with the Goddess Eire. It is also the time of the harvest and a feast is had by all at which the first loaves of the season are made and eaten. There are also games held for the funeral of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu.
2nd August, Last day of Panathanaia ta mikra:
Final day of this holiday.
4th August, Herakleia:
The Herakleia is a celebration dedicated to the hero and God Heracles (Hercules to the Romans), especially commemorating his death. In Athens celebrations often focused around the Gymnasium dedicated to Heracles outside the city. However, in Thebes, this celebration would last for a number of days, where celebrants would athletic and musical contests, as well as sacrifices for Heracles.
9th August – Harvest 9 – Day of Remembrance for Radbod:
Radbod, the last independent ruler of Frisia, is hereby commemorated on this day. Radbod refused to get baptized and become Christian after being told that his unbaptised ancestors were burning in Hell. In response Radbod exclaimed “Then I will rather live there with my ancestors than go to heaven with a parcel of beggars.” This respect to the memory of his ancestors reveals him as worthy of honours on this day.
17th August, first day of Eleusinia:
The Eleusinia were held each year as a series of Initiation ceremonies for induction into the Cults of Demeter and Persephone. It also served as a time of dance and worship for these Gods and the priests of the Cult may have used this time to convey elements of the Mysteries to the people celebrating.
Common acts for this festival would have been bringing sacred items to the temple as offerings, fasting in recognition of Demeter’s fasting while searching for Persephone and dramatic recreations of their stories. The focus of these events was the relaying of esoteric information, usually on the subject of what happens to mankind after death.
19th August – Harvest 19 – Freyfaxi:
The traditional beginning of the harvests in ancient Iceland, where it would be celebrated with horse racing and games of martial prowess. At this time Freyr and Nerthus are honoured for their aspects of fertility and Thor may also be honoured in his role as “defender of the field”.
20th August, last day of Eleusinia:
Final day of this holiday.
2nd September, Niketeria:
This ancient Greek festival honours Nike, the Goddess of Victory. Information regarding this ancient practice is sketchy, but it is possible that the Greeks may have pressed commemorative coins in order to mark the day. This is likely, as the temples of Nike often also served as banks.
Worship of Nike generally included petitions that were passed to the Goddess through her priestesses, libations and sacrifices.
5th September, Genesios:
Genesios is a day of remembrance for the dead of Ge. However, Genesios is also a title that was given to Poseidon, meaning “The Father” and so it is reasonable to assume that this day was also sacred to him. As such, could effectively be seen as a festival of Earth and Sea.
9th September – Shedding 9 – Day of Remembrance for Arminius of the Cherusci:
Arminius was chieftain of the Cherusc tribe and a great leader. He forged an alliance of tribes within central Germany for the mutual goal of repelling the legions of Rome. Although this alliance did not last indefinitely, it did serve its function for along while. At this time in the year 9 A.D Arminius led the Battle of Teutoberg against three Roman legions, lead by Publius Quinctilius Varus. This was the beginning of a seven year war that ultimately served to mark the Rhine as the borderline of the Roman Empire for the next 400 years.
12th September, Demokratia:
The theme of this festival is as true in the Western World today as it ever was. Demokratia, as the name well suggests, was a festival for the celebration of democracy, constitutional government and justice under law. This is a big time for the Gods of Justice, Leadership and Order, as such it is sacred to Zeus, Athena and Themis.
Traditional celebrations would include the sporting of images of these Gods, who had the good grace to judge all men by the same standards.
15th September to 21st September, Eleusinia ta megala:
This is the final and greatest festival of the Eleusian Mysteries. Our knowledge of this and other Eleusian festivals is sparse in many ways, as although we can pin down when they occurred thanks to calendars that have been found and records that were kept, we are less informed about what exactly occurred at these festivals.
The Eleusian practices were Mystery Traditions, which means that the great majority of their practices and beliefs were kept secret intentionally. But we do know that these festivals often afforded people the opportunity to initiate into the Mysteries or at least take part in the public side of them.
The majority of what we know about the Eleusian Mysteries comes from later sources who would write sparingly about these things after converting to Christianity. But as you will have seen from the other Eleusian festivals we have spoken about, they have provided us with a good general description of events, even if it is hard to determine exactly what happened when. Today’s date if the Greater Eleusian Mysteries and we can be fairly sure that it was the largest and most significant of the Eleusian festivals. So take a look at everything described under the previous Eleusian holidays and imagine this week long festival as the grand culmination for them, the peek of the mysteries.
21 September, Mabon – Autumn Equinox:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
The Autumnal Equinox is the balance point between light and dark, representing a time when the Dark God of Wicca known as the Holly King has become temporarily equal in power to the God’s light aspect known as the Oak King.
This is the time of the second harvest, which can be seen as the most significant as it is the one that will have to last through the coming Winter.
This time was not as significant to the Celts, who didn’t officially mark it on their calendar with a particular ritual. Instead it seems to have signified the culmination of all the previous ritual activities for the year. It appears that communities may have come together at this time, but it was a lot more informal and the theme of the event seems to have been a “wrapping up” of other activities and setting one’s house in order. Thusly, not many modern Celts celebrate this time, but a small number choose to observe this date.
21st September – Shedding 21 – Winter Finding:
As the days are growing shorter and the night is growing, we meet a point of balance once more. From here onwards the nights will be longer than the days and Autumn is descending. It is a time to make preparations for the coming cold, as traditionally the Vikings would not travel the seas at this time for commerce, so reserves must be readied and prepared. Drink to Odin, the Old Man of the cold and seek his inspiration to guide you in the coming darkness.
6th October, Proerosia:
This festival kicks off the old agricultural year at the time of ploughing. The purpose of this day was to ask the Goddess Demeter for her blessings at this time so that the harvest would do well.
7th October, Puanepsia:
The Puanepsia takes place the day after the Proerosia in continuation of the agricultural themed holidays. This day is held in honour of Apollo for teaching mankind the gift of farming in order to end a world famine. At this time the myth of this event is recounted and offerings are made to Apollo.
8th October, Theseia:
At this time of year, the Athenians held this festival to honour the hero Theseus, the legendary king of Athens who was seen as their societal reformer and bringer of a united democratic government. The timing of the festival was thought to coincide with Theseus’ return from Crete and was celebrated by giving gifts of bread and meat to the poorer members of society. Gellius also tells us that a contest was held at this time, though he doesn’t note the kind of contest, however it is fairly safe to say that it was most likely a physical competition, perhaps as a testament to Theseus’ heroic exploits.
8th October – Hunting 8 – Day of Remembrance for Erik the Red:
Erik the Red was the first Norseman to successfully settle upon Greenland; a feat that has earned him the reputation as the man who discovered it proper. According to his saga, Erik spent three years in exile exploring Greenland, which he named in an attempt to attract other people to settle there. When he returned to Iceland he brought with him tales of Greenland and then brought back many new settlers who formed the first colonies there.
9th October, Stenia:
Perhaps one of the most amusing festivals on the Greek Calendar, the Stenia was celebrated only by women, using what would today be referred to as “smack talk”. At this time women gathered together for the specific purpose of insulting each other. It is thought that the purpose of this was to commemorate lambe’s successful attempts to bring laughter to his grieving mother Demeter, through use of his splendid wit.
9th October – Hunting 9 – Day of Remembrance for Leif Erikson:
The explorer Leif Erikson is the man truly credited with discovering America, no less than 500 years before Columbus. He is famed as establishing a settlement at Vinland, which is now regarded as L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
11th October to 13th October, Thesmophoria:
Following on from the theme of the Stenia, the Thesmophoria is also a women-only celebration. However, unlike the Stenia, this celebration involves a lot more hard work and manual labour. It would seem that at this time, the women would take to the fields and plough, in order to try and take some of the strain off the Goddess Demeter, who as a Goddess of nature was responsible for trying to feed the world.
Women would also abstain from sex at this time and indulge in purification baths. Sacrifices and offerings were also made.
13th October – Hunting 13 – Winter Nights/Vetrablot:
This day marks the official start of Winter on the Old Icelandic Calendar. Some sources suggest this date as being from as early as October 11th to as late as October 14th. As such it is placed here midway, so that you will either be celebrating on the night preceding the Old Winter, so that you will be meeting the Winter with your celebrations, or you will be a day or two into Winter when you hold it. Either way, the day is marked at an appropriate time. This day is sacred to Freya and the spirits she leads that are known as the Desir, whom are often viewed as our female ancestors. Celebrate the bounty of the harvest that is the gifts of Freya.
29th October, Khalkeia:
This festival is dedicated to Hephaistos, the God of Crafts and the forge. As such it was generally only celebrated by craftsmen, however some accounts note that in Athens this festival was also used to honour Athena and that everyone took part.
The usual processions and sacrifices could be expected, but there may well have also been some kind of torch ceremony or contest, as fire was considered sacred in regards to Hephaistos.
31st October, Samhain (pronounced Sow-in):
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
Across all three of these religions the themes of Samhain are extremely similar. It is a time for the union of two worlds, as the Underworld of the dead is closer to the land of the living and spirits may walk freely amongst us.
The God of Wicca, now in the Underworld, opens the doorway for spirits to return and feast with the living and likewise, the ancient Celts also sought to feast alongside the spirits of the dead at this time.
One traditional practice in many Celtic communities was to extinguish all the lights in the village and light a single bonfire, central to everyone as a communal gathering point. Later, all the lights would be relit from the flames of this bonfire.
8th November, Pompaia:
This festival honours Zeus by making a procession through the town carrying a Dios Kodion (the skin of a black sheep which has been sacrificed to Zeus), as well as a Caduceus (Hermes’s wand). It was thought that the Dios Kodion had purifying powers and that by either sitting barefoot upon it or placing ones left foot upon it, it may cleanse you. The rite of the Pompaia also served to protect the community, as the procession moving through the town would drive away storms and evil influences, and ensure that the grains were protected. It is also thought that at this time Zeus was particularly favorable towards children and would protect them.
9th November – Fogmoon 9 – Day of Remembrance for Queen Sigrith of Sweden:
Queen Sigrith of Sweden was once engaged to Olaf the Lawbreaker. However, prior to their marriage, he insisted that she convert to Christianity. She told him that she had no intention to give up her Gods and her ancestors, but felt no problem in him keeping his God as he wished. But her tolerant nature was met with a blow to the face, for which she called off the wedding. Her stalwart ways seriously deprived Olaf of power and so slowed the spreading of Christianity across Scandinavia. In turn, the Heathen ways held true for at least another 300 years.
11th November – Fogmoon 11 – Feast of the Einherjar:
In Norse mythology, the Einherjar are the spirits of the noble, virtuous warriors who have died in battle and thusly earned themselves a place in Valhalla. Today the fallen warriors are honoured, as well as the great heroes of the past. A feast is held in their name and to give thanks to Odin as master of Valhalla. This is among the most significant holidays on the ASATRU calendar.
23rd November – Fogmoon 23 – Feast of Ullr:
Ullr is one of the oldest Gods in the Germanic pantheon, possibly dating back as far as prehistoric times, appearing as a major God. He is God of the hunt, depicted as carrying a bow and often wearing skis. At this time weapons are dedicated to Ullr and he is sought after for success in hunting.
3rd December, Plerosia:
Little is known about the exact details of this festival, accept that it is dedicated to Zeus and involves regular sacrifices to him. Suggested sacrifices for the modern day would be libations accompanied with prayer, but you wish to also recite from the stories of Zeus as part of your celebrations.
8th December, Lesser Dionusia:
The Lesser or “Country Dionusia” is a festival of Dionysus. Although celebrated around this time, it does not hold a fixed date, instead each village choose the date as best accorded them each year.
All members of society take part in this celebration, including slaves, so it was certainly a rather large event. Plutarch tells us that this was an elaborate event comprising of a procession of wine, baskets of raisins, someone leader a he-goat and a people carrying a large erect wooden phallus pole that was decorated with ivy and fillets. During these celebrations a singer would also be present who would sing the Phallikon (the Phallus Song).
9th December – Yule 9 – Day of Remembrance for Egil Skallagrimsson:
Egil Skallagrimsson was a notable character in Norse tales. He was a fierce warrior, a healer, a poet and a sorcerer. Egil diligently worshipped Odin and indeed, he was very similar to this God of battle and magic. In his life Egil acquired a large family, great repute and amassed considerable treasure. In many ways he is revered as an example to many modern ASATRU and as such he is remembered on this day.
21th December – Yule 21 – Mother Night:
With blot, Sumbel and High Feast, this night marks the turn of the year as Sunna returns. This is the birth of the New Year and celebrations are held in honour of Freyr and Thor, who will continued to be honoured through to the High Feast of Yule.
21st December, Yule – Winter Solstice:
CELTIC, DRUIDRY, WICCA
At this time the Sun is at its lowest point, as today is the shortest day of the year. Thusly, after today the days begin to lengthen once more.
At this time the Wiccan God is reborn once more and kept cradled in the arms of the Goddess. Medieval literature indicates a similar theme among the Celts in the birth of the “Child of Light” who is still called by the name Mabon. However, we are able to trace practiced that are older than this that still influence our modern customs. This time of year saw many communal activities that may well have spanned for as long as three weeks, rather than being situated on this specific date. Among these activities were sporting events, games, musical performances, divination, hunting and feasting. Perhaps the most recognizable custom though, is the burning of the Yule Log, which originated in Germanic customs, but soon found its way into many Celtic communities. However, just like in ancient times, this observance remains restricted to only a small group of Celtic practitioners.
22nd December – Yule 22 – High Feast of Yule:
This great feast marks the start of the Runic New Year. Continuing from Mother Night, this time is held as sacred to Freyr and Thor.
24th December, Haloa:
Honouring the Goddess Demeter, this agriculture festival is marked by the threshing of flour. This is essentially a fertility celebration and a damned good way to close our Hellenic Calendar year. As with other rites of Demeter, it would begin by being celebrated by women only. They would attend a large feast and dance about the phallus pole and left offerings at its base. Later in the night, when the women were done, men would be admitted into the feast and a great revelry would be held, along with a large orgy that would continue for the rest of the night.
31st December – Yule 31 – Twelfth Night:
This day brings to a close the Twelve Days of Yule, which are seen as a minature scale of the entire year. At this time oaths for the New Year are struck, either sworn on your Hammer or upon Freyr’s boar.
Sources and References:
References below, combined with learned knowledge and personal testimonies, helped in the formation of this calendar, by providing facts of these ancient religious practices, as well as ways in which modern practitioners choose to commonly celebrate these holidays. The author of this calendar claims no rights or ownership to these referenced sources, but thanks all scholars, pagans and interested parties for these sources, without which this calendar would not be what it is.
The Pagan Federation: http://www.paganfed.org/
A Witches Bible, by Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Apple Branch, by Alexei Kondratiev
Celtic Rituals: An Authentic Guide to Ancient Celtic Spirituality, by Alexei Kondratiev
The Delphic Oracle: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/delphi/3310/index.html
ASATRU Folk Assembly: http://www.runestone.org/home.html
Southern Hemisphere ASATRU Calendar:
A Wiccan Bible: Exploring the Mysteries of the Craft from Birth to Summerland, by A. J. Drew
The ASATRU Alliance: http://www.ASATRU.org/
The Celts, Cead mile failte: http://www.packrat-pro.com/celts/celtmain.htm
The Book of Druidry, by Ross Nichols
The British Celts and their Gods Under Rome, by Graham Webster
The Concise Mythological Dictionary – Peerage Books
Pagan Calendar: http://pagancalendar.co.uk/
Compiled List of Festivals and Sacrifices in Athens: http://www.numachi.com/~ccount/hmepa/Notes.html