|YULE or MIDWINTER, the winter solstice, occurs on or around the 20th of December each year (in the Northern Hemisphere). It is often considered the beginning of the year, with the “birth” of the returning Sun. Yule is a time to celebrate and feast, knowing that cold, dark times are ahead. Traditional ritual activities include erecting and decorating Yule trees, decorating and burning Yule logs, and decoration of the home with evergreen boughs and festive lights.|
A Yule candle crown in snow
A Brightening Focus (or altar)
|BRIGHTENING is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal (Spring) Equinox (around Feb. 7), and depending on where a given Atheopagan lives, it may be celebrated as the time of dairy harvest and lambing, and first hints of Spring. It is sometimes called by other names by Atheopagans. Brightening is the time when the beginning of the returning of the light is noticeable, and a good time for planning and making preparations for the year’s efforts while Life’s energy begins to stir again under the ground.|
|HIGH SPRING is a celebration of childhood and playfulness–in many places, it is finally tolerable to go outside for awhile and play. Traditions include coloring eggs, playing childhood games and enjoying favorite childhood foods.|
Ukrainian Pysanky eggs, a Springtime tradition
|MAY DAY, roughly the midpoint between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice, is a time for celebrating young adulthood, the arrival of summer, and sexuality. Traditions include dancing around a Maypole, drinking May wine, enjoying sweets and fruits, and other pleasures. Called “Summertide” in the Southern Hemisphere.|
|MIDSUMMER, or the Summer Solstice, around June 20, is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated in December in the Southern Hemisphere). Often celebrated with parties and bonfires, the Midsummer holiday is a time reflecting the robust comforts of mature adulthood, and as it is between the times of planting and of harvesting in the agricultural cycle, it is a time for relaxing, creating works of beauty, and enjoying the company of friends.|
|SUMMER’S WANING (or DIMMING) is the midpoint between the summer solstice and autumnal equinox (around the 7th of August). Here we can see that the days have become noticeably shorter, and the harvesting seasons have begun to arrive. Historically associated with the grain harvest, bread and beer are popular feasting items at this Sabbath. Atheopagans also celebrate the middle aged at this Sabbath.|
|HARVEST, the Autumnal Equinox, falls around the 20th of September in the Northern Hemisphere each year. Like High Spring, it is a point in the year when the days are of equal length with the nights at the equator. Vegetables and produce are abundant at this time and it is a time for feasting, gratitude, celebration of elders and appreciation for what has been harvested over the past year.|
|HALLOWS, the midpoint between Harvest and Yule (roughly during the first week in November) is the Sabbath of loss and remembrance. Here we acknowledge death, mourn and say our thanks to our departed loved ones, and gird ourselves for the arrival of the dark, decomposing time of Winter.|
Note that Atheopagans are encouraged to modify the meanings and observances of these holidays depending on what is happening in the natural world where they live. They may therefore have different names for some of the Sabbaths and celebrate them differently than is described here.
Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, of course, celebrate this calendar offset by six months: for them, Yule is in June, Brightening is in August, High Spring is in September, May Day is in November (and is therefore called “Summertide”), Midsummer is in December, Dimming is in February, Harvest in March and Hallows in May.