The Fire Festivals of Ireland

The fire festivals of Ireland form one of the main cycles by which pagans mark the year. These festivals are still honoured today and used in conjunction with the cycle of the equinox as the basis of many a spiritual or ritual practices.

The importance of these festivals has continued through the centuries and even now many of them lend their name to a month in the modern Irish calendar. To really understand their importance, one needs to delve into the meaning connected to each festival.

IMBOLG - (im-BULL-g) - 1st of February - meaning ‘in the belly’, for the pregnancy aspects, this festival is about cleaning and clearing out after the down time of the year as first foods of Spring begin to appear.

BEALTAINE - (bee-OWL-tinnah) - 31st of April - meaning ‘The month of the beacon-fire’, this festival is tied to reallocating resources and the division of labour for the coming seasons. It is also a time of boundary crossover and protection as people work towards their abundance and in many cases fertility and conception.

LÚNASA - (LOO-nahsa) - 1st of August - coming from the name of the God Lugh, Lugnasad is known as ‘the festival of Lugh. It is a time of reaping and harvesting, feasting and frolicking, whilst also being a time of contracts, agreements and marital unions. 

SAMHAIN - (SOW-win) - 31st of October - meaning ‘death of Summer’ this festival is the Irish new year, linked with ancestor work, community celebration and planning and preparation for the down time of the year.

There is a lot to learn about honouring these festivals in our practice, not least of which is how to pronounce them properly, but the first step should always be remembering when they are.

If you too have troubles recalling the dates, then maybe this t-shirt is for you as much as it is for me.

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