EBK Activity Sheets


Pagan to Christian Festivals
Same Ceremony, Different Purpose (January to June)
Dancing round the Maypole -  Nash Ford Publishing



Christians took over pagan festivals as well as pagan shrines. Here are some popular ones in Britain for the first half of the year:

  • Candlemas (or St. Bridget's Day): When Jesus was a forty-day-old baby he was presented at the Jewish temple. This is the same time as the Celtic festival of Imbolc in honour of the goddess of mothers & children, Brigantia. Christians turned her into St. Bridget (also known as St. Bride).
  • St. Valentine's Day: The Christian festival of love was the Roman festival of the Lupercalia when young Roman men chose their girlfriends by drawing lots. It was at the same time of of year as St. Valentine's death.
  • Easter: Named after the Saxon goddess of Spring, Eostre. The Christians took over her festival of rebirth as it was at the same time of year that Jesus died and was resurrected. Her egg symbol became a a symbol of Jesus' rebirth.
  • May Day (or Roodmas): A very widespread Christian festival. It is also the feast day of St. Philip & St. James. Celebrations include Maypole Dancing, Morris Dancing, the crowning of a May Queen and appearances by Jack-in-the-Green (or the Green Man).
    • It takes place at the same time as the Saxon pagan festival now called Walpurgis Night after St. Walpurga (from Devon, the niece of St. Boniface). Maypoles are replacements for pagan Saxon sacred trees.
    • It takes place at the same time as the Celtic pagan festival of Beltane. Beltane welcomed the return of Summer and the the Celtic sun god, Belenos. Cheese and wheel rolling competitions on May Day probably come from his symbol of the wheel.

Click for festivals in the second half of the year


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