Describe ADF’s official ceremonial calendar, and discuss why it was designed in this way. (200 words min.)
ADF’s official ceremonial calendar was adopted to integrate well with the early Neo-Pagan movement combining several Indo-European observances. This particular calendar is distributed equally across the year, so it works well to keep a balance of observed High Days for various traditions. Even though some cultures may not have observed all of these particular holidays, when developing a system that works with many traditions it requires some understanding across those traditions.
In ADF, our eight High Days are as follows, including the feast name from the ADF Dedicant Manual:
Samhain or November Feast (November 1st): Samhain is the third harvest festival when farmers finish gathering what is left of their crops, animals are slaughtered so they do not have to be fed throughout the winter, wood is gathered, meat is smoked, and we begin to bed-down for the winter. It is also a time of year where the Celts celebrated this time of year as the beginning of the New Year, and when the veil between the spirit world is thinnest.
Yule/Winter Solstice or Winter Feast (December 21st): The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year where winter officially begins as the dark time of the year. Nature goes quiet and dormant, the animals hibernate, the folk break bread with families. This is traditionally a Norse holiday to celebrate or give offerings for the return of the Sun.
Imbolc or February Feast (February 1st): Imbolc is a Celtic fire festival in honor of Brigid’s flame as the first Spring festival. It’s a time of year to honor the return for the Sun and see whether Winter will continue or whether Spring is coming.
Ostara/Spring Equinox or Spring Feast (March 21st): The Spring Equinox is the second Spring Festival to honor the return of Spring and the fertility of the land. The day and night are of equal length, and the days will now start getting longer to prepare for the upcoming planting season.
Beltane or May Feast (May 1st): Beltane is a Fire Festival and the last of the three fertility festivals (in my eyes). Traditionally Beltane marks the beginning of Summer, but modern traditions instead count Midsummer as the beginning of Summer. It is a time that the land and the animals are most fertile.
Midsummer/Summer Solstice or Summer Feast (June 21st): Midsummer is the longest day of the year marking the half of the year to remind us that Winter is coming. This is the time of year that we prepare for the upcoming harvest seasons and give offerings for a bountiful harvest.
Lughnasadh or August Feast (August 1st): Lughnasadh is the first of the harvest festivals, and is celebrated in honor of Tailtiue, Lugh’s Foster mother who sacrificed herself for her people. During this time we celebrate in honor of Tailtiue with games and festivities. We also begin canning our harvest from the summer to prepare for the onslaught of winter.
Mabon/Fall Equinox or Fall Feast (September 21st): Mabon is the second harvest festival when much of our fall harvest is in abundance. It is another time of year where the day and nights are of equal length, but has little history behind its origin other than its Equinox roots. The earth begins to burn with bright colors as the foliage starts to die off.
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