Our ancestors celebrated life together with the rhythms of each season. Most of the celebrations used to be connected and deeply interwoven with life on earth and natural cycles. With a celebration, we bring back joy to life, give our human existence meaning, rejoice, share and care for each other.
Changes in nature and natural cycles have been symbolically pictured by a wheel, ever turning, being born and dying again and again. Never stopping no matter what happens. In ancient times people lived with the changes, accepting that there is a time of birth and growth as well as there is a time of death and decline. They accepted reality as it is and thus they celebrated birth and death equally. From all things – dark and light they knew there was a wisdom to learn.
Today, with economic growth and development we pay little attention to natural changes as well as expecting a continuous growth at all times. We celebrate positive events and cry when something negative happens. Wisdom and balance once observed within old traditions are slowly getting lost. The calendars hardly mark the festivals and celebrations which used to express the most powerful connections with nature.
Traditional seasonal festivities and the way to celebrate them
The wheel of changes includes all the festivities throughout the year. Those are the times when we are given a chance to stop, refocus, become aware of the beauty of life, celebrate and be grateful in whichever way we can.
1. Winter Solstice: around 21. December
With the rebirth of the sun, we celebrate new beginnings, set intentions, honour family and friends, engage in selfless actions, as well as nourish peace within and without. Some great ideas to carry out during this time are:
- Decorate your home with symbolic plants you can find in nature at that time: mistletoe, evergreen wreaths, and ivy. These will protect your home, fill it with joyful energy and bring good luck for the New Year.
- Organise a gathering of gratitude, together with your friends and engage in: cooking, sharing and caring one for another, singing and playing music which makes you happy and peaceful.
- Fill your entire house with candles or lights. During the longest night, stay in darkness and experience its depth. Reflect on renewal, peace and new beginnings. Learn from the wisdom darkness has to offer and after your experience is over, lighten the candles as a symbol of celebration of light and the new beginning. Set the intention, write a song or draw a picture.
2. Imbolc: early February or close to Valentines day
As the sun gains its powers, nature and its beings slowly awaken from winter rest. This is a time of initiation, inspiration and conception. Like in nature, you can use this time best to engage in creative works, purify and cleanse your space, as well as ask for blessings for yourself and your home, land or plants. There is no other time which would be better for starting new ideas or projects. It is also great to:
- Use essential oils, incense sticks or dried sage leaves and burn it around your house to bring freshness in. Also, if you have any crystals, this is the time to leave them outside for a day while you are completely cleaning your house to allow the new beginning to materialise.
- Have a cleansing bath with ocean salt and essential oils of basil, sage, rose and eucalyptus.
- Together with setting an intention you can engage in the symbolic act of growing seeds. Select some seeds, bless them and set the intention for what those seeds should be healing, or what effect they should awaken in you. Then put them in the earth and take care of them.
3. Spring Equinox: March
During the spring equinox observe the equal length of day and night. This is a time when everything is bursting and blossoming and so are you. Nature is now awake, new projects have started, it is a time of coming out and being seen. Celebrate, play and gather, cherishing everyone and everything as they are, natural and pure. Here are some ideas of what to do during this beautiful time when everything is completely alive:
- Join some friends for a picnic, share foods and good times, enjoy the freshness that lies everywhere around you.
- Take time daily for long walks in nature, observe changes, feel spring awakening all around you and ask for inspiration or guidance. Collect flowers and make beautiful wreaths, hang them on your door to welcome visitors or in your living room. Put some of the flowers you collected in a basket together with some other gifts from nature and share them with strangers or people you love most.
- The first herbs are already growing, thus you can prepare a revitalising spring tea: nettle, dandelion or spruce tips. If you grow herbs inside, then you can use lemongrass and mint.
4. Beltane: end of April, beginning of May
As we are moving closer to happy summertime, the first seeds of your creations are already visible, thus celebrate, dance, enjoy exuberance and sensuality, get involved in romance and grow in creativity. Being playful is the key during this time. Here are some tips for your celebration:
- Get into a playful mood and let your inner child out: gather some children and play with them. Let them inspire you, let go of the need for control, relax and learn while having fun. Laugh as much as you can, even if there is no reason for it.
- This is a perfect time for rituals to increase divine feminine energy and fertility or for a gentle micro-movement to awaken each cell in your body, especially your reproductive organs. Fertility refers to all levels of your life. With conscious rituals you prepare the ground for your projects, ideas and relationships to grow and develop. Create an altar in the forest or anywhere in nature. Decorate it with any plants and fruits you can find in nature during this time (ie. nuts and berries) and dance or express yourself creatively.
- Gather all your friends and make a huge fire. Do not forget to stop for a moment, make a wish and then jump over the fire for good luck.
5. Summer Solstice: 21. June
The longest day of the year and the middle of the summer. A great time to be spent in great company, relaxing and cherishing each other as well as focusing on relationships and the well-being of those you love. Enjoy the magic of this night – it is truly special! Here are some useful ideas about how to spend this magic time:
- Make a pledge and think of an act with which you will be able to help mother earth. Carry it out in the following months. Nature will be very grateful.
- Go for a night walk, connect with nature and collect healing plants right at midnight. According to legend, the plants collected during this night, with pure intention from a person with a pure heart, will heal any wound and make any wish come true.
- On the eve of the longest day of the year, gather with people you love, sing, share, dance, celebrate long into the night. As the night comes down and the clocks strike midnight, take off your clothes, leave the fire burning and go on a search for fern seeds. Connect with the night, forest and the forces at work during this night. The legend says that the one who is lucky enough to find the seeds will gain the magic powers to speak with animals as well as other forest beings. Whatever you decide to do, spend this night in nature – it is one of the most incredible nights of the year.
6. Lughnasadh: 2. August
During this time the first crops are ready to be harvested, we get to reap what we have sown. At this time, we work hard but also get great benefits. Carry out rituals and ceremonies of gratitude to thank mother nature for its abundance:
- Bake bread with friends, share it amongst each other as well as with animals and nature.
- Make charms or other gifts from crops that you have harvested and give them with love to your friends.
- Organise corn or apple harvests with fun celebrations of your own choice, expressing gratefulness to mother earth after you finish.
7. Autumn Equinox: around 21. September
For the second time in the year, day and night are equally long. In rituals give thanks, collect your harvest and take care of its proper storage, slowly start to prepare for cold weather and introspection. Some inspirational activities include:
- While storing your harvest, do it with love, sing from your heart or chant special mantras in order to save it with healing and positive vibration.
- Make a fire from sacred wood and herbs as gratitude and let go of hindrances in order to be able to successfully get all the fruits and finalise your projects, work, and harvest with great success.
- Make an offering of the best fruits, vegetables, nuts or any other food you have harvested and give it back to mother earth with sincere gratitude and love. Only when you are able to learn to completely detach from the results of your actions you will truly gain.
8. Samhain: 31. October through 1. November
As a cycle comes to an end, it is a time of death and transformation. Today this period is known as Halloween when we remember all those who died and left us great wisdom behind. This is a perfect time to release any old energies, relationships, understanding death and birth and surrendering. Some ideas for activities during the Samhain:
- Have a relaxing walk, if possible barefoot in nature, observing the colours, smells and maybe collect some objects that speak to you on the way. Sit down, observe the sunset and contemplate the cycles of birth and death, accepting and surrendering that everything is coming and going and finding yourself completely balanced and at peace within this moment.
- Take time for rest and reflection, read and review your past year. Contemplate your growth, challenges, adventures and learnings. Write a review and reflect. Burn a fire to release the old and decide what it is that you wish to keep and nourish during the coming year.
- Use herbs and spices either in your cuisine or in teas, such as: rosemary, sage, mint, mullein, acorns, chestnut, as well as pine cones for your fire and oak leaves in your bath.
Finally, the circle is closed and a new fresh circle can begin, filled with new projects. The flow of nature is the only true reality, which we cannot influence or change. All the other realities are your creations and often make you believe that they are more important than the natural cycles that you can observe in nature.
Therefore, every day or every month: take time, connect at least with one or two festive dates in a year or just become conscious of them and the changes that they bring along. Being aware is the first step to connecting with nature and ourselves.