Celtic Holiday Traditions

Saint, Avalon Grove, NCThe Celtic Faerie celebrate the traditional ancient Celtic holidays, with the addition of Christmas and Easter, which are celebrated in honor of the birth and resurrection of Christ. The section below titled “The Sacred Days” has been provided by the Fair Folk in response to a question on when to celebrate the holidays in those areas of the world where the seasons do not occur at the same time of year as they do in the Western Hemisphere. For calendars with holiday dates all over the world, click herehereherehere, or here.

Click here for this year’s holiday celebration dates at Avalon Grove in the North Carolina mountains.


The Sacred Days

In the days of old when many of us still dwelt in the old Celtic lands, these sacred times were not celebrated on a particular calendar day as they are today. We had no calendar in those days, but we celebrated properly by listening to the loving counsel of our Mother Earth and our Mother and Father Creator. We observed creation all around us for signs of when to celebrate these sacred days. We observed the stars and the sun in the sky and the benevolent face of our Mother Moon. We observed how all green things acted about us and how the wind’s breath during the seasons would change from warm to chill to cold. Today you celebrate the old sacred days by the human calendar upon the wall. These sacred days as listed in your modern calendars are more or less accurate, for they fall within the spiritual time when these sacred days should be celebrated.

Before we fled the lands of the Celtic stronghold, we lived in the Western hemisphere of the Mother for many millennia, so of course we adapted to how the seasons arrived in those lands. Mother Earth is vast and the seasons or the sacred times will fall or arrive not on the exact same time as they will fall or arrive on another part of her creation or her body. The Celts of old did look to Creation directly, seeing the sun and the stars as messengers and observing all green things around them and observing the animals. In this manner, they were able to foretell the arrival of these sacred times. Modern humans have lost that gift because of the imaginary separation between them and creation. Until humans learn to once again feel the arrival of these sacred days naturally in creation, we will encourage humanity to honor these days in whatever way they can remember them. Because of the observance of these sacred days, remembered by humans with the help of the Julian calendar, these days have not been completely lost. Over the passing of many millennia, they have become powerful and legitimate gateways which have only been strengthened by humanity’s memory both of its folklore and of the days which have been transcribed in the modern calendar. Therefore, the modern calendar is useful in helping the Mother’s children today to remember and honor these sacred times.

The Celts were keen observers of the Mother and did not use calendars. Should you wish to celebrate these days in your part of the Mother without the use of the Julian calendar, like the Celts of old, you will need to cultivate that forgotten gift in your spirit by observing the Mother and her children around you directly. If it happens that the seasons in your hemisphere are reversed, please use good judgment and celebrate according to the idea of those sacred Celtic days. Acknowledge the arrival of winter or spring or summer or autumn at their proper times, but do honor the changes of the Mother’s face in your part of creation in some manner. Every area will have its own time for Solstice and Equinox. The Julian calendar is an illusion, but the changing face of the Mother is not. You may find that by observing nature or speaking with the Fair Folk in your own area, you will learn of the proper time to celebrate these sacred days. Watch carefully and listen intently, and you will see within your own spirit when these days should be celebrated within your hemisphere of the world.

The traditional dates for the holidays in the Western Hemisphere are listed here.

  • Samhain/Halloween/Celtic New Year (October 31)
  • Yule/Winter Solstice/Christmas (December 21)
  • Imbolc/Candlemas (February 1)
  • Ostara/Spring Equinox/Easter (March 21)
  • Beltane/May Day (May 1)
  • Litha/Summer Solstice (June 21)
  • Lughnasadh/Lammas (August 1)
  • Mabon/Autumn Equinox (September 21)


With the approach of Samhain, the illusionary barrier between the spiritual and physical worlds becomes as a vaporous curtain, easily parted by a single breath. It need not be a time of fear as expressed by those behind the pulpit, nor a time of terror as promoted by the media in literature, television and film. Instead, Samhain can become a time for remembering our loved ones who have gone before us into the world of spirit and honoring the years they shared with us on this physical plane.

We may find that, as we remember a loved one’s physical life, their spirit may draw close to us. This is no cause for alarm, for if our loved one cherished and protected us in the physical, he or she will continue to do so in spirit. If you are of the Christian faith and still feel unsure about this night, and you wish to be safe from negative spirit influences, then perhaps you might use this simple prayer:

Dear Mother and Father Creator, Brother Jesus and Mother Mary,
Please surround our home with your mighty angels.
From the innermost walls of our home to the outermost walls of our home,
From the highest peak of the heavens to the womb of Mother Earth,
Envelope our home with your presence.
By Earth, Sea and Sky, we ask this.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Those of other faiths will wish to say a protective prayer which best fits their own spiritual needs. Just as you have the power to choose which physical companions enter your home, through your protective prayers, you have the power to decide which spirit companions enter your home on Samhain night or on any other night.

Samhain is also the night of trick or treat. Please consider asking silently, in your own way, for a blessing upon each child who comes to your door. You might ask the Mother and Father Creator to watch over the child as he or she travels from house to house collecting treats, that each child may return safely home at the end of the night’s journey.

Since you are supplying treats to the physical visitors to your door, please also consider supplying treats to your spiritual visitors. This can be done by placing next to a lit candle a loaf of bread or some other food item that can be given to nature the next day. By doing this, you are allowing your spirit visitors to partake of the energy of the treat set aside for them, and you are also honoring the memory of your loved ones who now reside in the spirit world.


Yule is the time of the longest night, for daylight is overcome, and the sun flees earlier from the sky. This is not a time to curse the darkness, but a time simply to accept the long night as a part of the great wheel of life. Take comfort in the knowledge that, though the night is long, the sun will return again on the morrow. When Yule passes, the sun begins to remain longer in the day sky in its journey around the sacred wheel of the seasons.

At this same time of year long ago, our ancestors huddled about their fires and watched the dark Yule sky for the return of the sun. Within their communities, the people extinguished the fires in their homes, so that for a time all dwelt in total darkness. In that darkness, our ancestors reflected on the sacred mystery of darkness and light. Suddenly within the community, a single flame was born to burn away the curtain of darkness. From a soon-roaring bonfire, many torches were lit to be carried back to each person’s dark dwelling, that their own flames of light might be reborn. This was done not only to comfort our ancestors, but also to remind the sun to return to Mother Earth, so that all creation might live.

Christians today look to this time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Son of the Holy Parents. This sacred time still has the power to thaw our frozen hearts with the warmth of the light of love, and even upon the coldest, darkest night of the year, we celebrate the birth of the Light, the birth of the Son. To thaw our frozen hearts, we must look beyond the false mask of commercialism set in place by our modern society, and instead turn to the love our Mother and Father Creator hold for us. We must learn to bask in the love of Mother Mary, and of our beloved brother Jesus, who was born as a human during a time of spiritual darkness, so that through him we all may dwell in spiritual light.

Please consider extinguishing all sources of light in your home on the night of Yule, so that you are enveloped in complete darkness. During the time you dwell in the darkness, understand that darkness is merely a part of life, as is the light. Do not be afraid, but utter your heart’s prayer to the Mother and Father, to Jesus, Mother Mary, or to any other Spiritual Being who watches over you. Take comfort in the knowledge that you are never alone in the dark. Understand that even in the darkest time of your life, you will always be loved by Spirit, and if you hold on long enough, the darkness will fade away with the coming of day. The Light will always return to your life.

Contemplate this fact as long as you need to, and then suddenly dispel the darkness by lighting a single candle. As you stare at the flickering flame before you, acknowledge that the light has returned. With this single flame, light other candles within your home or on your altar. As the candles flames flicker before you and around you, thank the Mother and Father for the return of the Light, and for the return of the Son.


On this day, under the gray skies of Winter, life begins to stir in the womb of Mother Earth. Through this dark half of the year, Winter has provided our Mother Earth with a much-needed rest, so that the fires of new life may grow strong within her nurturing soil and throughout the rest of creation. Within the remnants of Winter’s cold shroud lies the pregnant promise of Spring’s future rebirth.

Imbolc is traditionally celebrated as a feast day to honor Brighid, foster mother to Jesus. Brighid is known both as the guardian of the well of the living water of healing and wisdom, and as the guardian of the eternal flame from which life, inspiration, and poetry are born. In her role as midwife to Mother Earth, Brighid fans the new flames of life, so that creation can continue to give birth and we all may survive.

The word Imbolc also means ewe’s milk, the very essence of life between a mother and her newborn lamb. Therefore, the day of Imbolc is celebrated as the festival of lactating ewes, or the promise of the continuance of life through the flow of milk.

The day of Imbolc honors all these things with the pregnant promise of Spring’s fire within Mother Earth, and within all of us. If weather permits, please consider honoring Imbolc outdoors. In a quiet, secure place, as the children of Earth, Sea, and Sky, thank the Mother and Father Creator, Jesus and Mother Mary, for their loving gift of the fire of life within us and within the rest of creation.

Touch Mother Earth physically with your hands and thank her for giving birth to you. Tell her that you will pray for the unborn children within her, that their life’s fire may burn strong, and they may be born in the coming Spring.

Ask assistance of the four Guardian Angels from the four corners of the Earth, that they may assist all creation during this time of reawakening and rebirth.

To honor this time of Motherhood, consider offering Mother Earth and her children (your newborn brothers and sisters) a drink of milk or cream to honor their approaching birth. You may also wish to offer Mother Earth a drink of water from your sacred cup to slake her thirst, and some bread to feed her, as well as any other hidden four-legged or winged brothers and sisters who might be watching from the cover of the woods about you.

In closing, please contemplate the rebirth of Spring and the pregnant possibility of change within your own life. Such a change could be the actual birth of a child or the approach of another life-changing event, but it could also be one of the simple changes which form a part of our lives every day of the year. Whether we are female or male, we should all consider and honor the pregnant possibilities which may be born into our lives.


It is at the time of Ostara that our beloved Mother Earth gives birth to the bright, shining child known as Spring. Grandmother Winter remains only long enough to gaze fondly upon this newborn child, protected by her during her reign of snow and ice and darkness.

During this sacred time, day and night share equal duration upon our Mother Earth. Then the Sun’s light slowly overcomes the brooding darkness of winter. The child Spring thrives in the growing sunlight, which she expresses through her budding trees, her tender, green shoots, and her bright, gentle flowers. In the bright, Spring air, the birds sing courtship songs as they build their nests. All of Mother Earth’s children participate in springtime romance through song and courtship dances.

As humans, we may try to hold ourselves aloof from what is taking place in nature during springtime; yet even in our airtight office buildings and homes, we cannot escape the beautiful song of Spring. This song of green growing things and of new beginnings flows past the fortress walls of our office buildings and our homes. Spring’s gentle voice can penetrate even the hard shield which guards our hearts, as she sings to us a song of rebirth and a second chance at life, a song for releasing the past and starting over. She sings that some of us are like old trees who stubbornly hold on to our withered leaves of sorrow. “Let go,” the song whispers in our heart, “so that the new buds may be born, and grow into new fresh leaves of hope.”

Like bears, we must awaken from our deep slumber, shake the grogginess from our spirits, and leave our winter caves for the bright days of spring. We should also learn from the example of our rabbit cousins, who, in the stories of our ancestors, teach of fertile possibilities, of rebirth and transformation, and of the luck to succeed. Perhaps we should be like the modern Easter Bunny and secretly leave baskets of colored eggs on each other’s doorsteps. At least, in doing this, we would be spreading joy within our communities. In the Celtic Lands, it is the custom to write your hopes for the future on an egg and bury it in your garden, so that–like your plants–your wishes will grow. At the very least, the egg, a symbol for fertility, will nourish your garden.

For many Christian communities, the arrival of Spring is celebrated on Easter Sunday, which is also a day of celebration for Jesus’ victory over death through his resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion. We ourselves may wish to be reborn at this sacred time of year, as we follow the example of our tree cousins. Shaking loose our shroud of dead, sorrowful leaves, we find those same leaves can become mulch for a bright new future, as our spirit limbs bear new buds of hope, and new, green shoots push through the forest floor of our hearts.

To celebrate the Spring Equinox, Ostara, or Easter, stand in your sacred, ceremonial space, and ask the Mother and Father Creator, and, if you so choose, our loving brother, Jesus, and Mother Mary, to join in your ceremony. You might consider asking the four Angel guardians of Mother Earth–the guardians of the East, South, West, and North–to bear witness to your ceremony. You might even consider asking any good Faery who might be interested to attend your ceremony, and any other spirit allies of the Mother and Father Creator.

As a child of Earth, Sea and Sky, give thanks to the Mother and Father Creator for your life. Gives thanks for the return of the child Spring, and for the longer days of sunlight. Ask that the Sun not burn too harshly, that the new green shoots of Spring may survive, and that there will be enough rain so that all of Creation will have enough water to drink.

Perhaps, at this time, you may present the Mother and Father with a wish egg on which your dreams for the future are written. Pray that your hopeful dream seeds of the future will grow in your garden of life. Of course, seeds may be used instead of eggs, or even simple, hopeful, spoken or silent prayers will be enough for the Mother and Father to hear your needs.

Remember to bring at least two loaves of bread with you, one for yourself, and one for Mother Earth and her children. Hold your loaves up to the Mother and Father and ask them to please bless them. Also remember to touch your bread to the Earth and ask for Mother Earth’s blessing. Take the bread you are using for an offering to Nature, and, turning clockwise in a circle, present the loaf to all of those present, whether physically or in spirit, and say, “I offer this loaf to you, Mother Earth, in love, so that you and my newborn cousins may have something to eat.” Shred the loaf into smaller pieces, so that your smaller animal cousins may carry it away more easily. Place your own loaf aside, so that you may feast on it after the ceremony.

Remember, also, to bring a cup of water, so that you can offer Mother Earth and her children a drink. Again, hold the cup before the Mother and Father Creator and ask them to bless the water, and request that there will always be enough water for all of Creation to drink. Touch Mother Earth with your cup, and once more turn in a clockwise circle, showing the cup to all those present. Then, with reverence, pour the water on to the ground. You may say, “My Mother Earth, I offer you and my cousins a drink of water to celebrate the birth of Spring.” You may also consider leaving out a bowl of cream to be enjoyed by a passing Faery or anyone else who may be interested.

At this time, talk to the Mother and Father about what is in your heart. Take as long as you wish. At the end of your ceremony, please remember to thank the Mother and Father for attending your ceremony. Give your thanks, also, to Mother Earth and the four guardian Angels of the Mother, and, finally, to any other physical or spiritual being who has chosen to attend.


This sacred holiday begins the light half of the year, which holds sway until Samhain, or the beginning of the dark half of the year. On this day begins the reign of the young and beautiful May Queen. By her command, all Mother Earth’s children heed her call of courtly love. The May Queen seeds the very air with romantic promise, so that every green thing, every animal, and every human is hard-pressed to ignore the fires of love which flicker within them.

The Fair Folk need no command to enjoy this holy day, as they sing and dance with the animals among the forest trees and carpets of flowers found upon the Earth. The Fair Folk, in their joy, wish to commune with all the Mother’s children, even their human cousins, if we would, for just a moment, believe within our hearts in their existence. We should heed the example of the Faerie, and, on May Eve, light a fire or even a small candle to honor the beginning of the reign of the May Queen. With this small flame, speak a prayer of thanks to the Mother and Father Creator for the return of the Spring Maiden in her royal robes of spring flowers, and pray that under her rule as May Queen, all life on Mother Earth will thrive. Please consider leaving a bowl of milk or cream and freshly baked bread, in honor of the Fair Folk and for the other beings who may wish to partake of your small gift.

Consider tying bright, colorful prayer ribbons upon the limbs of the trees in your own backyard. If a tree is not available due to apartment living, then perhaps you could use a bush, or even a house plant. First, always request permission from the tree or plant, to ensure your green companions do not mind hosting prayer ribbons for a brief time. Choose ribbons of bright Spring colors. Hold the ribbons in your hands as you utter your prayers over them. Gently tie the ribbons to a tree branch or to the stalk of a green plant willing to assist you with your prayers. Let these ribbons remain in place until three days after Beltane. At that time, to show respect for your green prayer companion, please remove the prayer ribbons and burn them in a safe container, so that your prayers may mix with the smoke to be carried in the air to the presence of the Mother and Father Creator, or bury them in your garden, so your soil may be seeded with your prayers.

Another traditional way to honor Beltane was to dance around a May Pole. In our modern age of over-development and mass deforestation, trees are very precious to the continued survival of all life upon Mother Earth. Instead of cutting down a tree to erect a May Pole, you could tie a hoop of ribbons around the trunk of a tree, attach long ribbons to this hoop, and dance around the tree as you would any other May Pole. Look about the trees near your home and find long narrow branches that can be bent into hoops. Wrap ribbons tightly around these hoops so that the branches maintain their circular shape, but also create very colorful hoops. Finally, attach long ribbons to these hoops, and give them to the children or adults to dance with. Watch as the dancers swirl around in spirals, the ribbons flying behind them in colorful rainbows. Use only yellow ribbons on some of the hoops to honor the nurturing warmth of the Sun on all green things.

As usual, give honor to the Mother and Father Creator, to our beloved brother Jesus, and to our loving Mother Earth. As a child of Earth, Sea, and Sky, call upon the Holy Family, and the four Guardian Angels of the four directions to bless Mother Earth and all her children on this blessed May Day, the holy day of Beltane.


This sacred day greets the majestic sun at the apex of its power. On this day, the sun glories in its full blaze of fiery light before beginning its slow journey back into the darker days of Autumn and Winter.

At this time, much of green nature has reached adulthood under the warm, nurturing light of the sun. The earth is aflame with colorful wildflowers growing in abandoned fields. These are the original flower children lovingly planted by Mother Earth’s own hands. Within gardens planted directly by human hands, beautiful flowers riot loudly in their beds of bright colors.

In nature, our animal cousins love to bask in the sun’s heat. As they draw the life giving energy into their fur, feathers, scales, bones and blood, they draw the sun’s fire into both their bodies and their spirits.

Many humans also crave rebirth in sunlight, to feel the pleasant, joyful warmth of the sun’s rays warm the flesh and bones of our bodies. Our spirits are illuminated as the sun’s light illuminates for us the vividness of creation around us. The sun’s bright fire dances before our eyes, and within our bodies, and causes our souls to sing away the darkness.

On this day, thank the Mother and Father Creator for the life giving fire of sun, so that our Mother Earth may live and not dwell in complete darkness. Those of us who are Christians give thanks also for Jesus, our beloved brother, who is the light that shines in the darkness. He illumines our spirit from within, that we may be illuminated from without.

The following is a merely a ceremony template, which you can choose to make as simple or as complex as you wish. Suggested items for your ceremony include your staff, a cup of water to represent the Grail Cup, potted flowers which can be planted, a loaf of bread, and, finally, a small vessel of cream.

On this day, if possible, stand under the sun. (If the weather is stormy, please remember the sun still shines behind those gray clouds.) Find the center of your yard, or at least a place where you feel spiritually comfortable. Place your Grail Cup, the potted plant, the loaf of bread, and the vessel of cream upon the Earth in this area. Arrange these items as you wish. Use this area as your sacred spiritual center to begin the ceremony.

With your staff in one hand, raise your free hand to the sky and speak words similar to these:

“As a child of Earth, Sea, and Sky, I humbly ask the Mother and Father Creator to bear witness to my ceremony.” (Those of the Christian Faith may also wish to include our beloved brother Jesus and Mother Mary.)

Lower your free hand to the Earth and say:

“I also humbly acknowledge my Mother Earth who surrounds and sustains me, and I humbly welcome any of my animal family who wish to bear witness to my ceremony. I also humbly ask any friendly Faeries who serve the Mother and Father Creator to bear witness to this ceremony.” (You may also wish to request any loving spirit companions of which you are aware to observe your ceremony.)

With your staff, step out and mark the four directions of Mother Earth. Be sure to travel sun wise, and, at each compass point, thump your staff three times, and humbly request that the guardian angel of that direction attend your ceremony. Return to your sacred center in your yard. Put your staff down, and, with both hands, hold the potted flowers above your head, and speak these words:

“Mother and Father Creator, thank you for Father Sun who gives light and warmth to Mother Earth. Thank you for Father Sun’s light which shows me beauty in the darkness. In return for this sight of beauty you have given me, I humbly offer you in return this small gift of beauty.”

Place the flowers upon the ground to be planted later at your convenience, and add:

“Father Sun, shine gently on these flowers, that they may flourish in your light. Mother Earth, welcome your new child.”

Lift the Grail Cup above your head and say:

“Mother and Father Creator, you sustain me with the Living Water of your love. Therefore, with gratefulness, I offer these flowers a small drink of living water from my cup.” (Pour the water onto the flowers.) “Father Sun, let your light sparkle upon this water.”

Set the cup down and pick up the loaf of bread and hold it skyward, saying:

“Mother and Father Creator, please bless this bread that I may humbly offer my cousins in nature a small feast. Father Sun, please warm this bread with your light.”

Pick up the vessel of cream and hold it skyward and say:

“Mother and Father Creator, please bless this cream, so that it may nourish my Faerie Family. Father Sun, please shine brightly upon this vessel.”

At this time, in your own words from your heart, thank the Mother and Father for the sun, and tell them what the sun means to you. End the Ceremony with a prayer of your own choosing, and simply thank the Mother and Father and all the others who attended spiritually and physically. Again, your farewell can be as simple or complex as you wish.

If you do not wish to do the ceremony above, then please create one of your own. If nothing else, at least on this day acknowledge the importance of the sun’s light and warmth in our lives, for truly, if there was no sun, there would be no life.

Mother and Father’s blessing upon you.


Lughnasadh or Lammas is the time of year of the first harvest, the time when the sun begins to make its way toward the dark part of the year. The sun’s energy, power and dominance is waning, and so, although it is a time of abundance, it is also a time of preparing for the arrival of autumn with winter approaching soon after.

Lughnasadh is a time to give thanks for all the bounty we have received, whether it be in the form of food, good health, or success in love, work or another area of life where things are going our way. Lughnasadh was originally the first harvest of grain, and it is symbolized by bread, as well as by fresh fruits and vegetables, for this is the time of year when the sun has reached its peak and, agriculturally, the crops are at their peak as well. Most importantly, Lughnasadh is a time to be thankful for grain in the form of bread, for this is a symbol not only of the bread we eat, but also of the bread of Christ.

You may wish to recognize this day in thought and action by going outside with a loaf of bread and a vessel which holds clear water. Keeping in your awareness that this is the first harvest, the grain harvest, thank the Mother and Father Creator, Jesus, and Mary for the bounty you have received in your life. As you give thanks to them, hold the bread up high.

Then thank the Great Mother for the bounty you have received. You might kneel down and touch the Earth with your hand, thanking her for allowing the seeds of life to be planted in her and for providing the nourishment and nurturing to bring the crops to their full growth.

As you are kneeling, speak the words, “By Earth”. Stand and raise the bread upward and say, “By Sky”. Then turn slowly in a clockwise circle, and add “By Sea, we acknowledge the bounty all Creation has given us. We ask all Creation to bless this loaf of bread. We give it back to the Earth so the rest of Creation may share in our abundance.” Break some of the bread into pieces and scatter it upon the Earth.

Then, from the cup, pour water upon the Earth and speak these words, “Just as you have given life to us, Mother and Father Creator, Brother Jesus and Mother Mary, we give life back to you.”

You may take the remainder of the bread back into the house to share with friends or family, for the bread has been blessed. The loaf of bread has now become a symbol for all the food to be shared that night and all the bounty of the things which went right throughout the year. It is also a symbol of much bounty and good fortune for the coming year.


On Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, the day and night are of equal length. In the days which follow, the sun’s strength begins to diminish or, in a spiritual sense, descend into the Mother’s womb. This continues until the time when the sun’s light is reborn at Yule or Winter Solstice, when we celebrate the birth of the Son of Light during a time of spiritual darkness.

Reflect on this sacred time of Mabon, and notice the seasonal changes of the environment around you. Watch the Mother tuck her seed children safely within her womb and cover them over with a comforting blanket of earth and fallen leaves and later snowfall. Even in areas of the Mother with very little noticeable seasonal change, if you still your soul and listen to Mother Earth, she will tell you her slumbering secrets of change. Watch also your animal cousins as they prepare for the approaching winter. Watch the sky and the sacred waters and seas. Listen to the gentle loving promise of the Mother and Father Creator to Mother Earth and all of her children.

“Never fear, our beloved Daughter Earth, for though the sunlight grows faint upon you, the light of the Son will soon return, that all creation may awaken and live again.”