Witches certainly require privacy to cast spells and for certain rituals, however witches around the world are also renowned (or notorious) for their partygoing and party-giving skills. Witches have a reputation as a restless bunch: they like to get out of the house frequently (or at least so says the stereotype), especially at night and especially when the night holds promise of high spirits and magical company.
Although perhaps any time is the right time for celebration, enchantments, and revelry certain times of the year are particularly associated with witches and witchcraft.
The witch’s calendar of revelry and sacred days includes celebrations of Earth and her powers, ancient Pagan festivals, and modern derivations of these festivals from Neo-Pagan as well as Christian sources.
Upon closer examination one will notice that although there are many localized names for these holidays, reflecting different cultures, languages, and spiritual orientations, most of them correspond in time to seasonal changes such as the solstices, equinoxes or periods immediately following or preceding them.
The modern perception is that people superimpose holidays and festivals on these time periods. The magical perception would suggest that ancient people were responding to Earth’s moods. The nature of the festivals (some are solemn, others wildly ecstatic) reflects Earth’s natural and consistent state at that time of year. Thus the many variations on specific themes may not all derive from one source; instead they may have emerged independently, in response to a natural phenomenon that, although obvious to our ancestors, may be imperceptible to many of us today.
These celebrations may be categorized thus:
• Festivals honoring and acknowledging solstices and equinoxes: Midsummer’s, Mabon, Yule, and Ostara
• Anarchist festivals when rules are defiantly broken: May Eve, Midsummer’s Eve, November Eve, and Yule
• Nights that witches congregate and celebrate: Halloween, May Eve, Midsummer’s Eve, and Easter. (Easter? Yes, read on.)
• The periods when the veil between realms is thin and dead souls return to visit the living: Halloween, Yule, and Lupercalia.
• Times devoted to ritual purification and cleansing rites: Yule, Lupercalia, and the February Feasts.
• Celebrations of the Harvest and the Corn Mother: Mabon, Lughnasa, and the February Feasts.
Different names are used for identical days representing different traditions, languages, cultures, and spiritual orientations.