The Wheel of the Year that we see today stems from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. These traditions do come from historical holiday or celebrations that pre-date Wiccans, but were made popular by Gerald Gardner’s teachings.
If you follow the Wiccan Wheel of the year, the story remains largely the same. Specific paths may have slight variation but its root is the same – birth, growth, death and rebirth.
The Goddess gives birth to a son in midwinter. Through the spring he grows to be a young man. The Goddess appears to him as a young maiden. She falls pregnant and grows older, wiser, and more beautiful throughout the summer and fall. The God grows older and dies, symbolizing winter. During mid-winter, she gives birth and renews the cycle with the God.
There is a ton of information out there about the Wiccan sabbats. Its popularity in the new age and witchcraft communities makes it very easy to find resources on how to practice. I’ve linked some articles and rituals I have come across for each of them.
Celebrating this wheel of the year is common even among non-wiccans. It marks significant energies and the changing of the seasons which greatly influence the health and practice of individuals. I’m not Wiccan and I find these sabbats useful to ground myself which where we are in the year and season. Do they mark overarching patterns I’m seeing in my own life? Can I utilize the energy of birth, growth and death cycle in my own life?
However, transitioning to this wheel can be very overwhelming if you are coming from another cultural set of holidays. Within the 8 major holidays, many of us also mark the moon cycles or major astrological events. It can feel as if you are always having to celebrate or DO something. You do not have to celebrate every single moment to have an effective practice or spiritual or religious path.
If you don’t feel quite drawn to the pagan/wiccan wheel of the year, creating your own wheel is entirely possible. If there are a few key moments throughout the year that you wish to mark, focus on those. They can be tied to significant ancestral events, current mainstream holidays, the seasons – whatever you want.