There are many ways Pagans determine when to perform rituals for sabbats and lunar rites. Some Pagans celebrate on the closest weekend, some celebrate the sabbats on the nearest full or new moon, some celebrate the day of while others will celebrate the eve of, some will use local conditions, and others use popular timing as determined by astronomy. This article will focus on this last method of popular astronomy.
The greater sabbat dates are fixed, which mean they don’t change. Generally, the are celebrated on the first of the corresponding month. Although another method is to use the date when a sabbat is at fifteen degrees of its fixed sign (Samhain – Scorpio, Imbolc – Aquarius, Beltane – Taurus, Lughnasadh – Leo). Now on to the lesser sabbats; the solstices and equinoxes. Although popular culture will have you believe that the equinoxes are the dates of equal daylight and nighttime, this is not exactly true. An equinox is actually determined by the date the sun intersects the equator. The time of equal lightness and darkness for your area would be determined by local sunrise and sunset information. As for the solstices, these occur specifically when the axis of the earth is tilted farthest from the Sun or nearest to the Sun. So solstices might not be the longest day or night, but are one of them. The lesser sabbats also correspond to zero degrees of its cardinal sign (Yule – Capricorn, Ostara – Aries, Litha – Cancer, Mabon – Libra), however the dates associated with the festivals no longer correspond to these constellations.