Category Archives: Holy Days

Calendar of the Year’s Holy Days & Observances

February Alternative Holidays, Candlemas, Imbolc,

Esoteric Meaning of Valentines DayJan 31- Feb 2 Imbolc also known as St.Brigid’s Day – Old Celtic and Irish feast of Goddess Brigid; merged with the Christian feast of St. Brigid. Fires were lit to welcome Her as She traveled about blessing fields, animals, and people.

Feb. 2nd, Candlemas, “Purification” of the Virgin (exactly 40 days ago she had a baby, now she’s “clean” again).

Feb 1-14 Old Greek festival of God Dionysos – in which vines were pruned and sprinkled with wine, accompanied by ritual singing and dancing.

Feb 7-8 Feast of Old Greek Goddess Artemis (Roman Diana) – as creatrix, midwife of birthing creatures, protector of the young, and punisher of child abusers.

Feb 13 – Feb 15 Lupercalia / St. Valentine’s Day / Norse Family Festival – Old Roman festival (Lupercalia – Festival of the Wolf) of God-Goddess Faunus-Fauna, celebrating Pan, fertility, and the coming Spring; merged with he Christian feast of St. Valentine, celebrating love of all kinds.

Feb. 14 –  Gnostic Holiday of Saint Valentinus, founder of Valentinian Gnostic Teachings, who lived and taught circa 100 to 160 A.D.

-Feast Day, Kristian Goddesses of Love. See Litany to the Kristian Goddesses of Love

End of January Holidays, Jan 20 – 31

Jan 24 – Feb 1 Sementivae – Old Roman festival of sowing, honoring Earth Goddess Terra (Greek Gaia), Grain Goddess Ceres (Greek Demeter), and Seed Goddess Proserpina (Greek Persephone).

Jan 25 – 30 Feast of Old Egyptian creating and destroying God-Goddess Amen – Amenet – The eternal transformer. Egyptians who deeply studied the Divine, (usually only members of the priesthoods and priestesshoods) came to perceive the many Gods and Goddesses to be aspects of the one God-Goddess Neter-Neteret.

British goddess Brigid became St. Bridget
Brigid, originally a British goddess who became the Christian Saint Bridget

Jan 31 – Feb 2 Imbolc / St. Brigid’s Day – Old Celtic / Irish feast of Goddess Brigid; merged with the Christian feast of St. Brigid. Fires were lit to welcome Her as She traveled about blessing fields, animals, and people.

Jan 31 – Feb 3 Old European Lunar New Year – Celebration of the Triple Goddess (Goddess of the Moon and the Seasons) being transformed from the Crone into the Virgin; celebrated with ritual bathing of divine images.

Jan 31 – Feb 4 Mid-Winter / Candlemas – Festival marking the transformation from death to life, the beginning of the agricultural year, awakening of hibernating animals, and return of migrating birds and fish. Observed with a candlelight procession to bless fields and seeds, recognition of newborns, and contemplation of life.

Mid January Esoteric Holidays Jan 7 to 19

Here are mid-January’s ancient and still-practiced holy days and their esoteric meaning.

Jan 7 – Eastern Orthodox Christmas, meaning Russian, Greek, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, etc. Christmas. Yes, they still to this day have Christmas every January 7. The explanation is because they follow the old Julian Calendar which is 13 days behind. But celebrating on January 7 is very close to the day the earliest Christians celebrated Jesus’ birthday: January 6.  It’s nice that the Christians of the Middle East celebrate the “big day” on January 7, so close to the original date their ancestors insisted on for the first THREE centuries of Christianity. Too bad in 2015 it had to be the day the terrorists chose to attack Charlie Hebdo newspaper office and slaughter Europeans for insulting Islam.

English speaking Christians in the 1500s would bake a cake with a coin on it every January 7th — they considered January 7 to be part of the Epiphany holiday where the Magi / Wisemen find the Christchild.  Epiphany  is now celebrated January 6, and in Spain to this day, the children receive their Christmas presents on the 6th.  As for January 7, whoever got the piece of cake with the coin in it was hailed as King for a day (or Queen). Symbols such as a cross, would be drawn in white chalk on the door post, lintel, or ceiling to keep dark forces out of the home.

Jan 8 – Druid New Year’s Day
Midwifes Day (ancient Greece)
Justicia’s Day (ancient Rome)
Freya’s Day (Norse / Viking holiday)

Jan 11 – Carmentalia, old Roman festival for the childbirth goddess, Carmenta
Juturna’s Day – ancient Italian goddess of “still waters” aka pools, lakes, ponds, Roman baths

Jan 13 – Ancient Irish Druid Feast of Brewing
-Saint Silvester’s Day
-Old Calendar New Year’s Eve (still celebrated in Switzerland with clanging of bells to scare off evil spirits)

Goddess Vesta and her Ass which saved her
Goddess Vesta, the Virgin and her Donkey

Jan 14Feast of the Donkey (also called Feast of the Ass)
The donkey saved the Virgin Mother and her child during the flight to Egypt, but few people know the donkey also saved the Roman goddess Vesta, goddess of Virgins. According to Ovid, she had fallen asleep and was almost raped by Priapus when a donkey brayed to wake her up. Ever after donkeys were honored in her name and she is often depicted with a donkey beside her.

Jan 17 – 19 Feast of Fate – Ruler of Past, present, and Future, honoring Goddess as Moirai (old Greek), Norns (Old Norse), Coatlicue (Aztec), Pachamama (Inca), Manat (Old Arabic-Sufi) & Providence (Christian).


January Esoteric Holidays

Goddess Hecate Hekate Isis
Hecate or Hekate

Jan 1 – Jan 31 January/Janus – Dedicated to Old Roman God-Goddess Janus – Jana, who knows both past and future.

Jan 2 thru 3 Feast of Old Greek Goddess Hekate / Hecate– who guides all through transitions and crisis.

Jan 3 or 4 Earth Perihelion – when the Earth is closest to the Sun. (It is farthest from the sun on the 4th of July). Peri means near, and Helion is for Helios, the sun god. The sun god is closest to us on this day, thus it is his “birth” day. We kind of have a sun-god / Light of the World birth “week”, or “season” every year this time, if you haven’t noticed, thanks to all the Festivals of Lights, Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas all based on the Winter Solstice of Dec. 21 and the Perihelion on Jan 3 or 4.  In 2015 the perihelion occurs at exactly: January 4, 2015 at 6:36 UTC (01:36 EST)

In January 2015, the full moon occurs on January 4. Most charts will tell you the moon is in Cancer when it goes full this month, but if you were to look in the sky you would see it’s actually physically located in front of the constellation Taurus, not Cancer.  (Our Mystery School always uses Sidereal measurements, based on the literal star constellations)

Jan 6  Original Christmas Day.  Now January 6 is called Epiphany in the mainstream church, with January 5 being Epiphany Eve. In the original Church for the first 325 years of Christianity, January 6 was celebrated as Jesus / Yeshua’s birthday. Then Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity, followed a few years later by making it the official state religion of Rome. He couldn’t resist moving Yeshua’s birthday to his own god, Sol Invictus’ birthday. That was Dec. 25 on the Roman Calendar, which was the Winter Solstice back then, now  in our modern calendar taking place on Dec. 21. Many early Kristian churches continued to celebrate Jan 6 as Yeshua’s birthday up into the 600’s AD even though Constantine had changed the date. Some rare Christian sects still celebrate Jan 6, calling it “Old Christmas”.


Dec 20 – 31 Esoteric Alternative Holidays

Dec 21 – Beginning of Esoteric Kristmas Cycle, the Twelve Days of Kristmas.  Please observe this cycle of holy days with fellow Church of the Way and Mystery School members
– Celtic Alban Arthuan – Return of the Sun God. Druid Festival of Alban Arthuan
– Day of Holy Apostle Thomas (of the Gospel of Thomas).  Celebrated December 21st. The Gnostic scriptures teach that Thomas understood deeply the mysteries that Jesus imparted to this disciples, and the Gospel of Thomas is a major Gnostic work. It seems this was not understood or not appreciated by the orthodox church, which excluded his gospel from the canonical New Testament. He is mentioned many times in other Gnostic scriptures as being one who had Gnosis. The beautiful story called both “The Hymn of the Pearl’ and “The Hymn of the Robe of Glory” is attributed to him. From:

Dec 21 thru 25 – Old Egyptian festival of Isis, the Magna Mater (Mother of God and Mother of All) giving birth to God Horus.

Dec 22Yule, Winter Solstice

– Day of Archangel Raphael, whose name means “Healing power of El”. Celebrated December 22nd. Raphael is the angel of healing and health, and is always invoked in the Sacrament of Unction. Raphael represents the principle of regeneration as related to the powers of health and also the regeneration of the Light in the realm of darkness. Thus Raphael has been celebrated in our tradition at the winter solstice, because when the darkness has reached its epitome, it engenders the renewed Light, which is then “born” on Christmas Day. From:

Dec 23 – Sacred to Hathor.
Larentalia, a Roman holiday honoring the household protectors, and part of the end of year Roman festivals

Dec 24 – Celtic Tree Month – Month of Reed ends, Tree Month of Elder begins.

Dec 25 – Christmas Day, Christian celebration of Blessed Maria giving birth to Child Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
– European Feasts of Herne, Frey, Dionysus – Birth of the God, the Light of the World.

Dec 25 thru Jan 5 Norse Yule: Old Norse festival honoring Frey and Freya (Deities of Fertility) and the new-born Baldur (God of Light) with evergreens, fires, and feasting.

Dec 26 thru Jan 1 – Kwanzaa: Festival celebrating positive African traditions; emphasizes unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Bringing in the Boar's Head for Feast Boar's Head Supper ancient Christian symbol
Bringing in the Boar’s Head, old English tradition

Dec 27 – Boar’s Head Feast, “probably the oldest continuous festival of the English Christmas season”. The boar was a symbol of evil, of the devil. Wikipedia says, “the presentation of a boar’s head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin”. So the idiot vandals on Christmas Day 2014 who replaced a baby Jesus in a Massachusetts church manger scene with a severed pig’s head, didn’t know they were actually symbolizing triumph over evil! Keep in mind, the boar’s head is never eaten, just presented with fanfare to show the defeat of the bad guys, the “killers of god” (a wild boar killed Adonis in Greek mythology).

Dec 28 – Sacred to Freya.
– Holy Innocents Day (when Herod killed the Bethlehem babies in his attempt to destroy the newly born Son/Sun God)

Dec 31 – Egyptian Lucky Day of Sekmet – also spelled Sekhmet, the ravaging lioness, with her burning solar eye, the destroyer/devourer aspect of the goddess.


Christmas Was Against the Law – Saturnalia, Solstice Influenced the Date

When Christmas was Against the Law explains all the dates primitive Christians originally celebrated Jesus’ birthday, and why Saturnalia (pagan holiday) and Solstice influenced the final choice.

Christianity Today lists the possible dates for Jesus birthday as: “May 20, April 18, April 19, May 28, January 2, November 17, November 20, March 12 and March 25 — and … December 25 probably didn’t emerge as the favored date until late in the third century.”

CNN goes on to say, “That, intentionally or not, grafted the new Christmas onto the old Saturnalia, the most popular celebration of Roman times. The seven-day festival that started December 17 to honor the god Saturn and welcome the winter solstice gave us today’s tradition of holiday greenery, gift giving and the office party (or variations thereof), for the Saturnalia was a time of much drinking, some carousing, certainly unrestrained revelry.”

It’s interesting that the Jewish Sabbath, the 7th day, was also named for the god Saturn (still is). Saturn was kindofa fierce mean father-god, wasn’t he? He got turned into Father Time and we used to draw him as the “Old Year” every new Year’s Eve, and the baby he’s often depicted with was called the Baby New Year. (There’s a dark side to that story, that he “devours” the baby, and we also see Saturn depicted by ancient artists with baby cupid on his lap, cutting off his wings).

The Greeks and Romans originally thought the Jews worshipped Saturn since they revered the 7th day, Saturn’s day.

Today the Sun Stands Still – Winter Solstice Birth of the Sun God

Winter Solstice, the Sun-God’s Birthday is today — at 6:03 p.m. Eastern Time to be precise.

Winter Solstice Christo-Pagan ancient holy day Mystery School online
The sun rises behind the Temple of Karnak during the alignment of the winter solstice sunrise to the temple in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor on December 20, 2014. The central sector of the site which takes up the largest amount of space, is dedicated to the Egyptian god Amun, who became prominent as the greatest of the gods. AFP PHOTO / RADWAN ABU-ELMAGDRADWAN ABU-ELMAGD/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s a photograph of the Egyptian Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt where for 6000 years people have gathered on this day to watch the sun rise on Winter Solstice. Even though it’s a Muslim country, people still gathered there in southern Egypt this morning. It’s an awesome sight to see all the people standing there. Probably Moses attended this sunrise service once upon a time.

The Reason for the Season, some people call today, the Winter Solstice, because it’s when the Light of the World returns, marked by several ancient religions, including the one we know most, Christianity. You may wish to check out our information on this Judeo-Christian-Pagan holiday and observances on our Esoteric Kristmas Holiday page.

The article where I found the photo explains the Winter Solstice perfectly, why the sun stands still on this day, etc.

Esoteric Meaning of Hanukkah, Festival of Lights

The eight days of Hanukkah began tonight at sunset. It continues until December 24th, this year.

Esoteric meaning of Hannukah Chanukah
Ancient Jewish Coin of the Maccabees

Yeshua & Magdalene, and Mary the Holy Mother all observed this beautiful holiday in their day. I wonder if their local synagogues had small menorahs to light, or if they had miniature ones at home like modern Jews use.

From our Mystery School’s Esoteric Christmas celebrations page:
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is probably the “newest” festival on the Jewish calendar (though it still predates all of Christianity!). Even so, Jews celebrate Hannukah as fervently – perhaps even more fervently than – their other festivals. Hannukah is derived from the Book of Maccabees, and it commemorates the eight-day celebration that occurred when the Jews were able to recapture and rededicate the Temple in 164 B.C. In addition to celebrating this military victory, it also celebrates a miracle.
Esoteric meaning of Hanukkah and Christmas
Ancient mosaic discovered in Israel

The Temple-liberators, the Maccabees, were only able to find one jar of consecrated oil, which was used to keep the Eternal Flame alight in the Temple. It should only have burned a day, but it ended up lasting eight days, long enough for more oil to arrive and be consecrated. In addition to this patriarchal military victory, two women are honored at this time of year: Judith, who saved Judah from being conquered by a general under Nebuchadnezzar; and Hannah, the mother of seven sons who died with them instead of bowing to a foreign idol. There is a plethora of information on Hannukah, please do research it.   Hannukah is a celebration of light overcoming darkness (good overcoming evil, God’s chosen ones overcoming oppression) and is therefore a very rich part of our Esoteric tradition.

When the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple, not only was there no pure oil accessible, but many of the Temple vessels were ransacked, including the Menorah. When the Maccabees finally found a small flask of oil, they made a make-shift menorah out of spears, and lit the oil which should have lasted only one day. God made an incredible miracle and the oil lasted for eight days.
Why did the miracle come about through oil? Why didn’t God miraculously create a Menorah?
Hanukkah is about remembering the hidden essence, the beauty based on what’s inside, not the external façade. Thus the miracle happened with the oil, not the Menorah itself. There was plenty of oil around, but they were missing spiritually pure oil.

You may know the basic props of Hanukkah: a menorah, a dreidel and chocolate coins. But here’s the inside story on Hanukkah, which began Tuesday at sundown.

Q • Isn’t this a no-big-deal Jewish holiday that’s pumped up just because it falls so close to Christmas?

Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish holiday, and the story it commemorates — the ancient and outnumbered Maccabees who triumphed over their Hellenistic oppressors to preserve their faith — is not based in the Torah, the Hebrew Bible.

And there’s no denying that Hanukkah is a bigger deal in majority Christian nations because it’s celebrated near — and sometimes on — Christmas. With all the Christmas hoopla, it’s not surprising that Jews have turned Hanukkah into a grander celebration than it might have been otherwise.

But Hanukkah is still important, and underscores one of the most significant themes in Jewish history: the struggle to practice Judaism when powerful forces seek to extinguish it.

Q • Why does the miracle of Hanukkah lead Jews to eat jelly donuts?

It’s all about the oil. When the pious Maccabees reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem, around 165 B.C. , they found only enough unadulterated oil to light the temple’s candelabra, or menorah, for one day. But miraculously, according to the Talmud, a body of rabbinic teaching, the oil lasted for eight days.

To celebrate Hanukkah, aka the Festival of Lights, Jews light a candle on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and one more on each successive night of the eight-night holiday. Gastronomically, Hanukkah focuses on foods cooked in oil, most typically latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and jelly donuts.

Q • Hanukkah? Chanukkah, Hanukka. How come there are a million different ways to spell it?

Variations abound mostly because of the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the “chet,” with which the word “Hanukkah” begins in Hebrew. “Chet” doesn’t have an equivalent in English. And the double K’s? In classical Hebrew, there’s a dot in the middle of the Hebrew letter “kaf,” which indicates an especially robust “k” sound.

Q • OK, now that I know how to spell it, what does it mean?

Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew, in that the temple, which had been turned into a pagan shrine, was rededicated to God.

Q • Do Jewish children get presents on all eight nights of Hanukkah?

Ah, the Jewish parents’ dilemma: They want their kids to appreciate Hanukkah, and not be jealous of friends who will be visited by Santa; but they don’t want children to equate Hanukkah only with presents. A common practice is to give a biggish present on the last night and small to medium presents on other nights, taking breaks with no-present nights.

Q • What’s with the spinning top?

ancient wisdom of hanukkah
Spinning a dreidel, chocolate coins called gelt

It’s called a dreidel (from the Yiddish, the language of many European Jews) and it’s practically the official game of Hanukkah. The dreidel (pronounced “DRAY-del”) has four sides, each with a Hebrew letter that stands for the saying “a great miracle happened there” — “there” being Jerusalem. If you’re in Israel, the letters stand for “a great miracle happened here.” Depending on which letter the dreidel lands on, you get a certain amount of chocolate coins, paper clips, raisins … whatever you are playing for.

Q • How come there are no good Hanukkah songs?

There are. You’re just not going to hear them on the radio in the U.S. because Jews are less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, and there isn’t a big market for these tunes. Plus, some of the best Hanukkah songs are in other languages spoken by Jews. But if you’re looking for a catchy Hanukkah song in English, try the Maccabeats’ “Miracle” or Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Light One Candle,” which is a famous folk song that many people don’t know is actually about Hanukkah.

Mid-December Esoteric Holy Days

Dec 11 – Sacred to Arianrhod

Dec 12 – Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Mother of God and Mother of the Oppressed

Dec. 13 –  Feast of the Light-bringer – Honoring Goddess as Juno Lucina (Old Roman). St. Lucy’s Day (Sweden)

Dec 14 – Warriors’ Memorial, Japanese

Dec 15 – Consualia, Roman Festival of harvest & stored grain

Esoteric meaning of Hannukah Chanukah
Ancient Jewish Coin of the Maccabees

Dec 17 – Hanukkah begins (2014) Read about the esoteric meaning of Hanukkah, how it ties into Winter Solstice and the return of the Light on our Esoteric Kristmas Observance page

Dec 17 – Yoruba / Santeria feast of Orisha Babalu Aye – Healer of deadly diseases.

Dec 18 – Sacred to Epona. Feast of the Virgin of Solitude

Dec 19 – Modresnact: Norse Mothers Night Festival (part of Yule and Esoteric Kristmas)

– Ancient Roman Holiday of Opalia, fertility goddess


Early December Esoteric Holidays, St. Nicholas of Myra, Tara, Buddha’s Enlightenment

December esoteric holidays gnostic holy days
Saint Nicholas of Myra

See our  Sundays of Advent page. Here’s a traditional Advent Wreath “how-to” page.

Dec 1 – Greek / Roman Day of Pallas Athena / Minerva.
– Day for Meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red Tara – Protector against evil and harm.

Dec 3 – Roman Day of Cybele / Rhea – The Great Mother.

Dec 4 – Feast of Shango – Orisha who defends against evil.

Dec 6 – St Nicholas of Myra Day, patron saint of children & mariners, original Santa Claus, known for his love of children
– Mindfulness Day – Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.

Dec 7 – Haloia of Demeter.

Dec 7 – 9   Feast of the Immanent Feminine Divine Spirit – Honoring Goddess as Maha Devi Shakti (Hindu), Holy Spirit Wisdom (Christian).

Dec 8   Rohatsu – Zen Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment.