took over pagan festivals as well as pagan
shrines. Here are some popular ones in Britain for the second
half of the year:
- Lammas Day: The Christian practice
of blessing of the fields takes place on this day at the
beginning of the harvest season. The first loaf from a new crop
is brought to church and given to the local lord. This is the
same day as the Celtic festival of Lughnasadh in honour of the
god of light, Loucetios, who has created the harvest.
- Halloween & Bonfire Night:
These were at the same time as the
Celtic festival of Samhain. This was a harvest festival when bonfires were lit.
Their smoke drove out fleas from the cattle. Because it was the
beginning of the darker half of the year, the Celts thought the
border between their World and the Otherworld became thin and
ghosts would escape.
- Christians said the fires would chase away the Devil. English
Protestants adopted this tradition to celebrate the capture of
Guy Fawkes and the ending of the Gunpowder Plot.
Hallows' Day was a day created for all the saints by the Pope
because there were too many to have a day each. The day before
is Halloween (All Hallows' Eve). The Christians said you
should honour the dead on this day and adopted the ghost
- Yuletide: Another word for
Christmas. It was the Saxon Winter festival. The ceremony of
bringing in the Yule Log was probably a pagan ritual in honour of their god of
thunder, Thunor. His symbol was the
- Christmas Trees: Putting one in
your house is a German tradition adopted in Victorian Britain.
But legend says St. Boniface (an Anglo-Saxon from Devon) told
the German pagans to do this. This was to remember his
destruction of their god Thunor's sacred oak tree.
- Twelfth Night (and Christmas):
These are at the same time as Wassailing Celebrations.
- Pagan Saxons drank a special
wassail drink from a bowl decorated with leaves. They took
the empty cup round the houses, singing songs & asking
for food & drink. The Christians turned this into Carolling.
- Cider is poured onto the roots
of fruit trees (especially apple trees). Songs are sung and
horns are blown to ensure the tree has lots of fruit in
the coming year. Christians added prayers and said the horns
scared away evil spirits.
for festivals in the first half of the year