Mark Your Calendar for the coming Imbolg (NH) and Lúnasa (SH) celebrations in the Wheel of the Year, the first celebration within the 2021 calendar year.
I like to think of Imbolg aka Imbolc as a continuing celebration of the waxing light that ignited and inspired us at Winter Solstice — and, of course, its association with the goddess Brighid — and Lúnasa aka Lughnasadh as our connection to the fulfillment that the first harvest brings, the fruition of the seeds planted in Spring near Imbolg time.
These Fire Festivals are celebrated at various dates such as traditional, true, lunar and your date. Read on for how these dates differ and why perhaps the “right” date is your date!
Imbolg aka Imbolc is celebrated February 1st, coinciding with Saint Brigid’s Day (Lá Fhéile Bríde in Irish). This is traditionally recognized as the first celebration of early Spring. Brighid is a triple goddess, associated with Healing, Poetry and Smithcraft (the forge). Some also see her as another manifestation of An Cailleach, one “ruling” the Spring and Summer, the other the Autumn and Winter. The lore around both the goddess Brighid and the Saint Brigid have syncretized over time.
Lúnasa aka Lughnasadh, recognized as the first Harvest of the Celtic year, is celebrated on the same day in the Southern Hemisphere. It is associated with the god Lugh, who shares several of the same qualities as the goddess Brighid, such as smithcrafting/forging. In fact, he had so many skills that he was also known as Samildánach (saw-vil-dawn-ukh), meaning “Many Skilled” or “Equally Skilled”, referring to his skills in magic, crafts, forging and warfare.
This date is an approximation of the “true” date which fluctuates year-to-year as the Solstice and Equinox dates differ slightly year-to-year, and serves to standardize them.
Because these two fire festivals dates are essentially at the mid-point between the December Solstice and March Equinox (just as Bealtaine and Samhain are at the mid-point between the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice), many choose to celebrate Imbolg and Lúnasa at the precise midpoint, which in 2021 is:
- February 3 @ 14:40 UTC (09:40 EST, 06:40 PST)
- February 4 @ 00:40 Sydney, Australia
Some choose to celebrate on the Full Moon closest to the traditional date. In 2021, that would be Thursday, January 28th, the Full Moon in Leo.
My message about when to celebrate the Wheel of the Year is always the same: celebrate when you feel the first signs of spring (Northern Hemisphere) and the first signs of autumn (Southern Hemisphere) in your locale.
I have no doubt my Celtic ancestors did the same, as these festivals came from their own alignment with their seasons, guiding them in their farming practices (for animals and plants).Connect to the energy of your locale and follow its seasons.
Yes, for many of us, our “first spring” and “first autumn” may be consistent with that of the Celts and their climate.
If it isn’t, find your connection and what marks the seasonal shifts for you, and celebrate in a way that honours your locale, your indigenous plants and the living creatures who reside there. And let that timing guide your soul work and spiritual practices to honour and reinforce your right relationship with the land.