There are four Greater Sabbats and four Lesser Sabbats. The Greater Sabbats are the cross-quarter days, and they are "Greater" because they marked critical times when they were celebrated in the past, like the time when the animals began to bear young or when the crops were ready to harvest. The Greater Sabbats are Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. The Lesser Sabbats are the Solstices and Equinoxes, and they are "Lesser" because they simply mark the extremes (and therefore, turning points) our planet goes through every year. Because they're based on Solstices and Equinoxes, their dates vary slightly from year to year. The Lesser Sabbats are Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon.
There is a "story" that goes with the entire cycle of the year. It follows the life cycle of the God from when He is "born" on Yule to when He "dies" on Samhain. The Goddess is also honored on every Sabbat but She is more closely focused on during the Esbats. Through the wheel of the year, the God is born to the Goddess, grows up, becomes Her lover, and then fades until He goes to the Summerland and prepares to be recycled in the cauldron of the Goddess. (This may sound incestuous somehow, but it isn't, because that is the way the Earth actually works; it renews itself and recycles itself, and the life that is born from Mother Earth also joins with Her for life. You can't think of the God and the Goddess in quite human terms or else the idea of a baby growing up to father himself with his mother is strange and sort of nasty; instead, it is really a beautiful thing, and you have to change your conception of what the God and the Goddess ARE so that you can see it as beautiful.)
To reflect on the meaning of the "spokes" in the wheel of the year, Wiccans and Witches celebrate by doing rituals or getting together with their covens or a larger group to honor the God and Goddess. I am not in a coven and do not normally celebrate with other people, so in my explanation of ritual I am going to focus mostly on how to create one to do alone.
Yule¤Imbolc¤ Ostara¤Beltane¤ Litha¤Lammas¤ Mabon¤Samhain
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