Rearranging the Irish Holidays

I felt a bit odd at first when I started thinking about rearranging the Irish holidays. Allec, one mastermind behind The Guide to Gaelic Polytheism, however, reassured me that it was not, in fact, blasphemy to rearrange them if I thought it was more beneficial.

The fact is, I’ve always celebrated the seasonal holidays in accordance with the Meteorological calendar as opposed to the Astronomical one that the holidays are usually based on. I don’t have time nor energy to figure out what dates this or that holiday is going to be on in any given year, and so it is much easier for me to have a stable date. The Meteorological calendar has provided that stability for me, and it’s worked out great over the years.

And then in comes the Irish holidays, which occur half a month to a full month before the counterparts I already celebrate. What is worse is that I have used the Meteorological calendar for so long, that I can’t help but always feel like these holidays are stuck in the wrong season! It made celebrating Imbolq on February 1st (which, for all intents and purposes, is still Winter for me) a very odd experience for me for several reasons.

Upon introspection, I realized I wasn’t actually going to be able to reconcile that. This, however, isn’t a very big deal to me. After all, Irish practice and belief is undeniably tied to the land; it’s specific to the Irish state at the time- including their own seasons. In addition to that, they were largely agriculturally related and ultimately the regional variations of faith and myth across Early Ireland are numerous.

While it might make sense to celebrate the holidays as is if I were in Ireland… I’m not in Ireland, am I? I’m a Woman who lives in the United States in the modern era. Specifically, I live in the agricultural belt of Oklahoma- which, while not bloodless or pleasant, has a rich immigrant history that is heavily influenced by Irish (and Scottish) Immigrants to the United States; the Irish played an important developmental roll within Oklahoma history up to and even after our Statehood was granted in 1907.

Other than my own partial Irish and Scottish ancestry, and the many Irish contributions to my state, I have no connection to Ireland. More than that, though, is the fact that the Irish and Scottish American experience is far, far different from the experiences of the Early Irish- or even the modern Irish, for that matter.

So it makes sense to me, then, that if Early Irish belief was dependent upon the particular region- and tied directly to the land, their harvests, and their seasons… That if we are not in Ireland then we should adapt the Holidays to our own locations and our own land. And because of the unique Irish contributions here especially, it makes sense to honor that in addition to what the holidays would normally celebrate.

With all of this in mind, I have developed my own Calendar which takes all of this into account.

Major Holidays

  • March 1st: Fuarán; Welcoming the Spring Season; equivalent to Imbolq
  • June 1st: Fadaigh; Welcoming the Summer Season; equivalent to Beltaine
  • September 1st: Fáiteall; Welcoming the Autumn Season; equivalent to Lughnasadh
  • December 1st: Sneachta; Welcoming the Winter Season; equivalent to Samhain

Secondary Holidays

Deer are our most important local hunt- and they are also sacred to Cailleach. For that reason, I tend to celebrate the opening of Dear season with a holiday celebrating those that tend to Hunt, Gather, raise Livestock, Farm, and so on- as well as their bounty. That being said, Rabbits are personally sacred to me and are one of my most important personal hunts. In keeping with tradition, however, you don’t hunt until after the first full frost- even if Rabbit season starts before then.

  • October 1st: Caildea; Feast of Hunters; occurs when Deer Season opens
  • November or December: Mearmunin; Feast of the Rabbit; occurs whenever the first Hard Frost occurs in my area

So here’s to a local calendar that works for me.

Some of these are personal religious holidays for me which are unrelated to the Irish ones, but yet I feel the need to include them here because they are, after all, related to Irish Polytheism for me. Additionally I have chosen to rename the holidays for reasons of my own- mostly so that there is little confusion about why I am celebrating something like Imbolq a whole month or so later than it is supposed to be.

Feel free to use it if you wish.

For a list of IriPol resources, including those I used to inform the opinions mentioned in this article, please view this page here.




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