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Witchcraft/Paganism Today Part III

Festivals Then and Now

by Morgana Firewings

Seasonal celebrations were an important part of cultures of the past. Those celebrations are the origins of many of today's holidays and festivals. Here we will look at what differences (if any) there are in how Neo-Pagans today celebrate compared to past Pagans.

In the past, people began celebrating festivals at regular intervals during the year. This was because they took notice of what was going on in Nature around them. For example, the Celts celebrated Lughnasadh, a corn festival named for Lugh the Corn King, when it was time to harvest the corn each year. Celebrating the changing seasons was a common thing in past times because of the closeness people shared with Nature.

We now live in a world of crowded cities, the internet, and busy lives. Today, Pagans have tried to re-create the festivals observed by Ancient Pagans. Again, for example: Lughnasadh is still celebrated as a corn festival in honor of the Corn King. People bake cornbread and other foods with corn as a main ingredient. The biggest difference is that most Pagans now do not actually harvest the crops as our ancestors did. So where Pagans in the past formed rituals out of normal occurances in their lives, today's Pagans are simply trying to re-create what they had according to traditions and myths.

Another difference between then and now is that the festivals are more diversified. Instead of one ethnic group celebrating, many different ethnic groups celebrate these same festivals. Sabbats, as they are now called, are even observed by solitary practitioners. This allows for a wider variety of interpretations and celebrations of the sabbats. So Pagans today may have more than 1 or 2 ways to observe the holidays.

Still another difference is that the Pagan way of celebrating seasonal festivals isn't as commonplace in the world as it was in the past. Now we have muddled remnants of festivals (such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween,etc.) replacing what were once Pagan holidays. Observances of original past customs are now being re-created by modern Pagans in the same Nature-based faith of the past.

Pagans now, are remembering the Old Ways with the tools and circumstances of today. We can only guess at what the future holds in store for the festivals of the year.