EDIT: If you’re going to reblog this, please keep the text.
That’s kind of the point of the whole picture.
Hello there! I’ve been getting a lot of questions like these recently, and I feel it’s best to just address them all at once.
First of all, let’s start with the basics.
Wicca — along with some (some!) other modern Pagan religions — follow a cycle that embodies the wheel of the year. Most commonly there are 4 major holidays, or Sababts, that correspond with the cross-quarter days (that is, the days that are in between each solstice and each equinox (2 of each)), and 4 quarter days that fall on the solstices and equinoxes.
Let’s start with the cross-quarter days. These holidays, Sabbats, include:
- Imbolc/Imbolg/Candlemas — 1st or 2nd of February.
- Beltane/Beltaine/Beltine/Bealtaine/Bealltainn/Boaltinn/Boaldyn (so many names!) — May 1st. The astrological date for Beltane is actually closer to the 5th or 6th or 7th, but this can vary from year to year and most people like to rely on tradition.
- Lammas/Lughnasadh/Calan Awst— August 1st
- Samhain — October 31st through till November 1st
The reason the names are so different is because of the different traditions of the British, Welsh, Irish, etc.
Now for the 4 quarter Sababts, or rather, the days that correspond with the 2 solstices and the 2 equinoxes. In British and Irish tradition, these were also the days each year on which servants were hired, and rents were due (Wikipedia).
- Yule — December 21st
- Ostara — March 21st
- Litha — June 21st
- Mabon — September 21st
Of course, these dates change nearly every year. Because the calendar isn’t exactly 365 days each year (more like 364.8 or something crazy like that), the dates of the equinoxes shift from anywhere from half a day to 2 days. On any given year, Litha could be on the 19th June, the 20th June, the 21st June, or even the 22nd June.
This, in turn, changes the astrological times and dates of the midpoints — or rather, the cross-quarter days: Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. However, most modern Pagans don’t bother with the date changes (most, not all!) and prefer to stick to traditional dates.
As for the Esbats:
Esbats are days of service performed by Wiccans. Every full moon, as stated in the Rede, Wiccans are supposed to meet by the light of the full moon and perform ritual. Esbats are used to reconnect with the Goddess, and to give thanks and place offerings, to dance and sing, and appreciate all that the Goddess gives to them.
I really hope this has helped. It’s a pretty general overview, and of course doesn’t nearly go into detail of the Sabbats and Esbats themselves. Here are some links from my Answered Questions Page„ in the Ritual/Sabbat/Esbat specific page. You should always keep looking at the Answered Questions page, because it gets updated nearly every single week.