Whilst equinoxes and solstices may have set calendar dates upon which they fall, (based on them being astronomical events), I feel that when to celebrate the other seasonal festivals is a matter a little more open to personal preference and interpretation.
Calendar date approach
Many people celebrate the cross-quarter festivals (Imbolg, Belatine, Lughnasadh and Samhain) on set calendar dates too. An advantage that I see with this is the sense of community. You know that others are celebrating a similar thing to you in similar ways on the same date; perhaps particularly appealing if your community of people with like-minded spiritual beliefs is largely online. Discussion, posts, searches and hashtags about themes related to Beltaine tend to, from what I’ve seen, centre around May 1st. Besides, an online community is often made up of people from various geographical areas; I know when I lived in Cornwall I’d be seeing the snowdrops a little earlier than now I’m in Bristol. It would be hard to achieve that togetherness with so much variation in nature’s pace.
Nature’s cues approach and lunar approach
I see the cross-quarter festivals as marking the shift in seasons (with the equinoxes and solstices as being the midpoints) so also base my date for celebrations on when I feel that shift in nature around me and in myself. I also take into account the moon phase, celebrating Imbolg around the new moon, Beltaine and Lughnasadh around the full moon and Samhain around the dark moon. This is because I feel that the energy and messages of these phases of the lunar cycle is similar to that phase in the solar cycle. I know, I know: it does seem a lot less faff to just go with the calendar day approach! But for me, it’s important to have that awareness and marrying of the solar rhythm, the lunar rhythm and that of myself and the nature that is local to my home.
Marrying them all!
In practice, I’ve moved towards celebrating these festivals as Imbolg-tide, Beltaine-tide, etc. This period of celebration will include (often start from/end with) the calendar date when many people celebrate so that I can share in that. It will also allow me to, at some point during the “tide” :
- enjoy some outdoor seasonally relevant activities with my husband and son,
- engage in some solitary reflection about the season’s message and the progress of the year’s goals,
- do some seasonal crafts, usually for decorating our seasonal altar with,
- do some baking and/or create a meal that is representative of that festival,
- have a ceremony or two (one simple, toddler-friendly one for the 3 of us and/or one more meditative, sacred one for just me),
- sometimes I might work a little seasonal magic or practice a little seasonal healing.
Spreading out the ways in which I honour each festival out like this also allows for my slower pace of life now that I have a family. It takes a lot longer to go for a walk or bake a cake with little legs and little hands involved! It’s very different making plans that cater for 3 peoples’ needs than it was when I started celebrating seasonal festivals as a single student. But I find my celebrations to be enriched for having these darlings to share them with, for my life – like everyone’s – changes and evolves through its own seasons. ♥
by Wendy Andrews – see paintingdreams.co.uk