All holidays are of pagan origin

Healing power - energetics

All Christian festivals have their origins in the ancient pagan customs of our Celtic ancestors. When the Christians began to proselytize Central Europe in the early Middle Ages, they encountered a network of peoples deeply rooted in nature, living together in small family and clan structures. Our ancestors passed the customs and myths down to a large extent orally and for these reasons we unfortunately do not know too much about them.

However, almost all Christian festivals have such strong pagan features that it is clear that these rituals very well survived. Even the names are reminiscent of old gods (Easter is reminiscent of the goddess Ostara, who, as Germanic Eostre, was an epithet of the goddess Freya) and the big fires alone have no equivalent in the Bible. The early Christians are likely to have taken the path of least resistance with our pagan ancestors and placed the early Christian festivals on the pagan dates and merged the customs.

The Celtic annual cycle and its Christian festivals

Our ancestors calculated with a lunar calendar, but this was expanded to include the four major solar festivals and the raucous nights. The full moon was very important and marked some festivals such as Imbolg, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain. The winter as well as the summer solstice and the two equinoxes of the day and night represent equally important holidays. The Celtic annual cycle was designed as follows:

Samhain - the festival of the dead

The new year began on Samhain, which is the 11th full moon of our calendar. Nature is dying, everything comes to rest - it is a time of reflection and death. For this reason, the Christians put their All Saints' Day on November 1st, which is near the 11th full moon. The dead are also celebrated and remembered by Christians. The Halloween festival, which is celebrated the evening before, has deeply pagan features and for this reason should not be demonized - this festival is older than any Christian holiday! The disguises should not only drive away evil spirits, but also look into the depths of the soul - explore and accept one's own shadows.

Yule - the light is reborn

The winter solstice - the longest night and the shortest day - was one of the great celebrations of the Celts and Teutons, because on this day the sun is reborn and the days are getting longer again. Christians also celebrate the birth of the sun or its Savior - namely the birth of Jesus on December 24th, three days later. Since his birthday was not exactly known, this festival was held near the winter solstice, i.e. Yule. In Scandinavia the pagan customs are even stronger than here. But we also put an evergreen tree in the house as a sign of rebirth and decorate it with the leftover fruits of thanksgiving. Saint Lucia, which is especially celebrated in Sweden in December, is actually the Bringer of Light. To cover this up, a Christian martyr was made of her.

Rough nights - the time in between

The rough nights are not a public holiday, but a very special time: since the Celts calculated the year with a lunar calendar, there were 11 days and 12 nights left at the end of the year until the sun had completed its circle. Therefore, the rough nights were an interim period in which the gate to the Otherworld was wide open. During this time there was much oracle, the weather for the next year was predicted and communication with the gods and the deceased was held. The Christians also let these days and nights move in and made smoking nights out of them. There was much prayer and smoking in the hope that the wild hunt with its fierce companions would pass quickly and that the days would get longer again.

Imbolg - the festival of lights

Imbolg falls on the second full moon of our calendar year and is a festival of hope. The days are getting longer again, the light is gaining more and more power and slowly the first herbs are sprouting. The goddess Brigid is remembered, who is now becoming fertile again and brings spring. Christianity also made this ancient goddess of fertility into a saint who is remembered. This belief is particularly well established in Ireland. The feast that the Christians laid at the beginning of February is Candlemas. Until then, the Christmas tree was left standing and the servants and maids were allowed to look for new masters. It was kind of a new beginning and a new beginning. This festival is no longer celebrated too big, but in the past it was firmly anchored in the village community - debts were paid back, the farming year began again and new servants were looked for.

Ostara - the spring equinox

Easter is the highest church festival and is accordingly celebrated on a large scale. Nevertheless, this festival also has strong pagan roots that reverberate to this day - the nine-herb soup or spinach on Maundy Thursday, the Easter bunny, the eggs and the sacrificed lamb are strong pagan symbols of fertility. Our Easter festival is shaped by this symbolism and the walk in church alone reminds us of the resurrection of Christ. But just as Jesus Christ was resurrected after death, so does nature now. Everything comes back to life - so we eat a lot of wild herbs or spinach. The egg is a primeval symbol of life and fertility and the hare, which can throw up to five times a year, now has its first litter at the time of the spring equinox. Most of the lambs were born in winter and are now sacrificed to appease the gods and make the land fertile - the sacrificial lamb.

Beltane - the festival of love and joy

Our maypole, which is set up in every village on May 1st, is blessed by the pastor. But the long trunk that "pierces" the red wreath at its tip speaks for itself - Beltane was an orgiastic festival for the Celts, which took place on the 5th full moon of our year and in which physical love was celebrated! Going into the hay meant nothing else than going to the field with the man of your choice after the lavish party, indulging in physical love and thus blessing the soil with fertility. It was a vicarious ritual for the Great Goddess and the fertilizing sun god. This festival, which was celebrated long after Christianization, was a thorn in the side of the Christian church. Holy Walpurga was supposed to cover this up and the first of May, as Labor Day, helped suppress it even more. Fortunately, however, the maypole festival has not been forgotten and the young boys' maypole stealing and climbing is also a kind of “courtship dance”.

Midsummer - the high point of summer

Now the days are the longest of the year and the nights the shortest. Many herbs and flowers bloom and are now in their full power. But this festival is also associated with sadness - the days are getting shorter again, but the great heat is still ahead. The summer solstice is still often celebrated with big fires in our country, because the sun now has the greatest power and makes everything fertile. Even today, these fires are a very powerful image of the sun and the highlight of the young summer. The Christian Church made June 24th a Christian holiday of St. John the Baptist, who was supposedly born on that day. The now blooming St. John's wort is named after him and should now be collected.

Lammas - the midsummer celebration

The Celts now celebrated the festival of bread, because the grain was brought in and many other crops. Lammas was celebrated on the 8th full moon of our year and it is also called the Schnitterfest or the herb consecration. August 15th, the Assumption of Mary, is also a herb festival for us, where the herb bushes are collected and consecrated. These bushes, which consist of 7, 9 or 33 herbs, were then smoked in late autumn and winter when bad times or storms swept across the country. If there was anything left over to the rough ones, it was a good year and the rest was smoked. It is also a celebration of the end, because from now on the harvest will take place and the harvest brought in for the winter. The Christian Church celebrates the completion of Mary, that is, her acceptance into heaven - here too an end. The Romans also celebrated on this day, namely the goddess Diana, the goddess of the hunt.

Mabon - the harvest festival

Mabon falls on the autumn equinox and is a celebration of gratitude - the crops have been brought in and before winter comes, it's time to be grateful and look back. Thanksgiving is not very important to Christians and to this day no fixed date. But what takes place especially here in the Alps and is celebrated in a big way is the cattle drive - the cows and sheep come to the winter quarters, summer is over. Mabon was a big festival for the Celts and Teutons, thanking the gods, drinking and eating and hoping for a hopefully mild winter.

With Thanksgiving, the Celtic year also comes to an end. Many of the old customs can still be seen vaguely from today's traditions. It is important to celebrate this and not let it be forgotten. Those who live with nature recognize the meaningfulness of these festivals and can celebrate them either pagan or Christian - basically it does not matter whether we pay homage to the one God, the old gods or nature - everything is connected and gratitude for the gifts that we get should go without saying!