Imbolc Date Discrepancies Explained

Imbolc is not on February second. It might be on February fourth, but it’s not on February second. I’ll explain.

So there’s this popular lady on YouTube who calls herself TipToeChick. I’ve watched a few of her videos, but it’s not really my thing. I can see that she’s really got a following, though, and she recently started a blog that you can check out here. If we were a spectrum, I think I might be on the other end, but that’s okay. Anywho, she just made a post listing the sabbats and their dates in the year 2009 and there was a lot of confusion in her comments because she listed Imbolc as being on the fourth of this month (as well as Samhain on November 8, Beltane on May 6, and Lammas on August 8), when common Wiccan practice states that Imbolc is on February 2. So basically all of her comments were along the lines of, “Wait! Isn’t Imbolc on the second?!”

No, no it’s not. Most Wiccans seem to celebrate it then, but it’s not. Imbolc as Wiccans originally observed was based on a pre-Christian Celtic festival marking midwinter. Early Wiccans, Gardner included, called the holiday “February Eve,” and practiced their rites the night before the first day of February and into the next day. Things got confusing when we decided that Imbolc and Candlemas were the same holiday. Candlemas is a Catholic holiday celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, described in Luke 2:22-40. Candlemas is celebrated by Catholics either on February 2 or on the Sunday between January 28 and February 3. It’s not a Wiccan holiday. I’m not sure where the idea that Wiccans observe Imbolc on february 2 comes from, but thanks to mass market publishing and newbies teaching newbies, everyone now thinks that Imbolc is February 2. This is also why everyone thinks that Halloween and Samhain are the same holiday. They’re not. Halloween is on October 31. Samhain is on November 1. Gardnerian and Gardnerian-derived groups celebrate “Samhain Eve,” so they often circle on October 31. But they’re not celebrating Halloween. They’re celebrating the night before Samhain. Kind of like how Christians have festivities on Christmas Eve, even though Christmas is the next day.

So back to TipToeChick. The dates she quoted are the astrological dates of the sabbats. I’m not an astrologer and as a general rule have little to no interest in astrology, but plenty of Wiccans do. So there are some Wiccans out there who celebrate Imbolc (a.k.a. midwinter) when the sun falls midway in the sign of Aquarius. The sun moves through twelve different astological signs over the course of the year (roughly three signs per season). So, midwinter falls halfway through the second winter sign – Aquarius. Ta da! Ditto for the other weird dates she listed for Samhain, Beltane, and Lammas (Lughnassadh, more appropriately). They’re the halfway points in their respective signs. It’s pretty unusual for Wiccans to observe this way, but it certainly happens.

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