Because the beginning of April is often stormy, it is said that first three days of April were borrowed by March, which comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb. In Ireland, they are called tri latha na boin ruaidhe, "the three days of the red cow." However, a northern Ireland version extends the three days to nine. The old legend states that the blackbird, the stonechat, and the old gray cow mocked March after his days were done and that to punish their insolence, he begged of April nine of his days: three to fleece the blackbird, three to punish the stonechat, and three days for the old gray cow.
The name of this month comes from the Latin word aperire, "to open." This is appropriate for a month of blossoming flowers dedicated to Aphrodite. The Anglo-Saxon name for this month is Eastermonath and to the Franks it was Ostarmanoth, the month of Eostre the goddess of Spring and the true origin of Easter. The Asatru and many other Pagans simply call it Ostara. The Irish word for April is Aibrean or in Gaelic an Giblean, while the end of April is known as Seachtain an t-Sionnaich, end of the winds.
The first Full Moon of this month is called Seed of Planting Moon, Budding Tree Moon, Egg Moon, or Growing Moon. Tribes in coastal areas referred to this as the Fish moon when Shad would come upstream to spawn. It is also referred to as Pink Moon for wild ground phlox, one of the earliest and widespread flowers of the spring, Full Sprouting or Green Grass Moon, Planter or Planting Moon, and Hare Moon, names it shares with May's Moon. It also shares the name, Wind Moon, with March. April's moon is also the Paschal Full Moon, the first full moon of the spring season.
On April 20th, the zodiac turns from Aries to Taurus. The sweat pea is the flower for April children. Aries is the diamond, though on some older lists, sapphire is the stone for the month of April. The birthstone for Taurus is the emerald. Aries also lays claim to amethyst, carnelian, garnet, fire agate, pink tourmaline, and topaz, while aquamarine, lapis lazuli, kunzite, rose quartz, and sapphire are associated with Taurus.
Lunar Holy Days
The Christian holiday of Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon of the spring equinox. Though one of the most important Christian holidays, it was drawn together from many pagan traditions, and its name came from the goddess of Spring, Eostre. The Easter Bunny is a fertility symbol of Teutonic origin, and the hare was an emblem of Eostre. Eggs, a major part of the celebration, also have their origin as fertility symbols.
The first Thursday after the 19th of April is Sumarda Gurinn-fyrsti, the first day of summer in Iceland.
The first or third Saturday in April is Glen Saturday. The children of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire gather to pick daffodils at Crawfurdland Castle.
The tradition behind April Fool's Day is uncertain. Though sometimes linked to a tradition of releasing insane people for one day a year for the amusement of "normal" folk, it is also considered sacred to Loki, the Norse trickster god, and it is acceptable to play tricks on people till noon. The day may even have evolved from the festival of Cerelia. An ancient Roman feast, it celebrated the story of Proserpina. Due to the hopelessness of Ceres' quest to find her daughter, it has been called a "fool's errand."
Some believe the celebration of April Fool's Day began many years ago in France. It may even relate back to the ancient festivals held on the vernal Equinox, March 21st. This was the beginning of the new year according to the pre-Gregorian calendar. In France when the Gregorian calendar was changed by Charles IX in 1564, the beginning of the new year was changed and celebrated on January first. Those people who still celebrated the day on the first of April were then known as April Fools.
Prior to the change of the date it was customary to give gifts on the first day of the year. When the date was changed, people began sending mock gifts to other people on April, making them April fools. In Scotland, the custom was known as "hunting the gowk," (the cuckoo, a term of contempt), and April-fools were "April-gowks." In France, a person who resisted in changing the date of the new year was victimized by pranksters who played practical jokes on him. This person became a poisson d'avril, an April Fish. The French traditionally celebrated by placing dead fish on the backs of friends, though today, real fish have been replaced with sticky, fish-shaped paper cut-outs that children try to sneak onto the back of their friends' shirts. Candy shops and bakeries also offer fish-shaped sweets for the holiday. Some believe the origin lies in the weather of the vernal equinox which seems to fool all of mankind. In many countries however, April Fools' Day is not celebrated on the first of April. In Mexico, Fools' Day falls on the 28th of December, and in ancient Rome, the day was celebrated on the 25th of March. They observe the day on the 31st of March in India.
The festival of Veneralia or Festum Verneris honors Venus "Goddess of Beauty, Mother of Love, Queen of Laughter, Mistress of the Grapes." During the festivities, married women invoked the goddesses Concordia and Venus. The jewelry and decorations of Venus was removed from her statue. The figure was washed, dried, and the golden necklaces restored. Offerings of roses and other flowers, myrtle and incense were given. English folklore says myrtle won't grow unless planted by a woman.
Fortuna Virilis is also held today in honor of Fortuna. Today was a festival of good luck honoring the goddess Fortuna, Lady Luck, to whom all gamblers pray whether they know it or not. Originally, Fortuna Virilis was interpreted as "men's fortune," but by late classical times it came to be interpreted as "luck with men!" This was a time for women to seek good relations with men, and women "of the lower order" would pray to Fortuna in the men's public bath.
This is the 17th day of Pachons according to the Egyptian calendar. It is a day scared to Hathor.
The day following All Fool's Day is Preen-tail Day or Tailie Day in Scotland. Paper tails were attached to the backs of unsuspecting people as a joke.
The 18th day of Pachons is the Day of Joy of the Ennead and crew of Ra.
Cybele, the Magna Mater, was honored with a Phrygian festival called the Megalesia which begins tonight. On the advice of the sibylline oracle on how to end the Punic wars, a meteorite which represented Cybele was brought from Phrygia to Rome in 204 BCE where it was installed in the Temple of victory on April 4th. The harvest that year was wonderful and the war ended the following year, giving rise to a parade in her honor in which her image was carried through the streets in a chariot drawn by lions, her animals. The castrated priests who served her, danced alongside, playing timbrels and cymbals and gashing themselves.
This is the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson.
The 19th day of Pachons is the Day of the Counting of Thoth Who heard Ma'at.
This is the first day of the Megalensia or Megalesia, a festival in honor of the Magna Mater, Cybele. In commemoration of the arrival of the holy stone image of Cybele at Rome, the people held processions and games. From the fourth to the tenth of April at her temple on the summit of the Palatine, scenic plays, Ludi Megalenses, were held in her honor.
On the 20th day of Pachons, Ma'at judges the souls before the Netjeru.
This is the second Day of the Megalesia.
This is the feast day if the Chinese goddess, Kwan-Yin or KwanShi-Yin, goddess of mercy, tolerance, and understanding.
In China, this is Tomb Sweeping Day.
This is the third Day of the Megalesia.
This is the fourth Day of the Megalesia.
In Romania, offerings were made to the Blajini, "kindly ones," the hidden spirits of water and the underworld.
The Church of All Worlds was founded in 1972.
This is the fifth Day of the Megalesia.
(12th?) The Cuchumatan Indians of Guatamala perform a special ceremony called Sealing the Frost after the corn is planted. In an attempt to protect the precious crop against winter's return, they climb a nearby cliff where frost is said to live. The Shaman is lowered on a rope to a crack in the cliff's face which he plasters up to seal in the cold.
The Aztecs of Mexico held the feast of the Hummingbird in honor of warriors who had died in battle or offered their lives in sacrifice. They were thought to live in the sun for four years before returning as hummingbirds.
Hana Matsuri, the birth of Buddha, and the Buddhist Flower festival are celebrated today.
This is the sixth Day of the Megalesia.
In the Portuguese territory of Macao on the peninsula along China's south coast, the goddess A-Ma, patroness of sailors and fishermen, is honored.
This is the seventh and last day of the Megalesia. An array of the deities was carried through a procession, and horse races were held with the prize of the first palm.
According to ancient Celtic folklore, the Sun dances each year on this day. In many parts of Ireland, people arise at the first light of dawn to watch the Sun "dance" in a shimmering bowl of water.
Bau, the Goddess Mother of Ea, was honored each year on this day in ancient Babylon with a sacred religious festival called The Day of Bau.
Birthday of Montague Summers in 1880, a folklore scholar.
The Ludi Cerealici or Cerealia begins tonight. Cross inscribed loaves of bread are traditionally baked in honor of the Roman goddess Diana. In Greece, branches of evergreen, myrtle, or bay were worn by children for protection against the evil eye.
In Armenia, the goddess Anahita is honored annually on this day with a sacred festival. The deity of both love and lunar power, she dwells within the silver light of the moon.
This is the first day of the Cerealia. Games introduced at the founding of the temple of Ceres were held from the twelfth to the nineteenth of April. In later times, another festival to Ceres was established in August. While the Megalesia was mainly a patrician holiday, the lower classes had the Cerealia. This was a time to pray for peace. Offerings of grain (spelt), salt, and incense were left on the hearth. White is Ceres' proper color. She was prayed to for peace, good government, and abundance.
In Taiwan, the goddess who presides over birth, Chu-Si-Niu, is honored annually with a religious festival. Pregnant women go to her temples in order to receive blessings for their unborn children.
The Nepalese New Year occurs in the middle of an eight day festival called Bisket. According to tradition, a princess was possessed by two serpent demons who killed all of her lovers. A foreign prince arranged a tryst, but unlike his predecessors, he came prepared. After they made love, he resolved to stay awake and keep watch. Two dark thread-like tendrils rose from her nostrils, expanding and solidifying into two snakes which he promptly killed.
This is the first day of the Japanese Kamo-Tama-Yori-Hime festival. O-yamakui-no-kami and his wife Kamo-tama-yori-hime were honored from April twelfth to fourteenth. They each have two shrines, one for his (or her) entirety, and one for his (or her) soul or spirit of the outside world (aramitama), equaling four shrines in all.
On the first day of the religious festival (matsuri) the two aramitama, whose shrines are side by side, are brought down in two portable shrines (mikoshi) and left in the adytum (i.e. haiden) of the main shrines consecrated to the soul or spirit of the inner world (nigimitama) of the God. At 9 pm, they are married - the two mikoshi are joined, back to back, and they are left there all night.
This is the second day of the Cerealia.
Thailand's Buddhists welcome the New Year for three days with ceremonies of cleansing. Statues of the Buddha are ritually bathed and people throw water at each other to wash away the old year's evils.
The Spring festival of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty, was held today. Libertas commemorated the creation of the Atrium Libertatis, the temple of the goddess Liberty.
This is the second day of the Japanese Kamo-Tama-Yori-Hime festival. The two nigi-mitama are taken from the haiden of the two main shrines and placed in two other mikoshi. The four mikoshi are then brought into the haiden of another shrine, the Obuyu-jinja. They are placed in separate compartments on a platform and decorated with flowers, fruit, mirrors, paint-brushes and 'anything that may amuse a child'. Children offer artificial flowers. At 4 pm, they are offered tea, and at 9 pm, about a hundred men come to shake the four mikoshi violently for one and a half hours (symbolic of rigors of child-birth), while a ritual dance (shishimai) is performed for their benefit. They are thrown from the platform (representing the actual child-birth) and each mikoshi is taken back to its own shrine. The child-kami that was born is called Kamo-wakaikozuchi-no-kami.
This is the third day of the Cerealia.
This is the third day of the Japanese Kamo-Tama-Yori-Hime festival.
According to the Norse calendar, Sommersblot welcomes the summer half of the year. According to superstitious belief, the fourteenth day of April is a very unlucky time for travel, especially by ship. (It was on this date in the year 1912 that the ocean liner Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the sea.) Whether the Titanic tragedy spawned the superstition or merely served to reinforce it is unknown.
Maryamma (or Mariamne), the Hindu goddess of the sea, is honored in India with an annual festival.
On the 30th day of Pachons, Celebrations were held in the House of Ra, Osiris and Horus.
This is the fourth day of the Cerealia.
A feast was organized by the Vestal Virgins in honor of Tellus Mater, an Italian Earth-mother, to insure plenty during the year. To ensure a productive year and the continued health of the world, farmers sacrificed a pregnant cow and cremated the unborn calf. Tellus is the matron goddess of all environmentalists.
This is the New Year in Bangladesh.
The Festival of the Iron Phallus, Kanamara Matsuri, is celebrated annually in Kawasaki City, Japan. The ancient Japanese deities associated with sexuality and human reproduction give their sacred blessings and encouragement, especially to couples who wed late in life or to men who suffer from declining potency. Originally the shrine existed to honor the gods of iron, but historically, the area was also the site of lots of brothels. The workers used the temple to pray not to get syphilis and from that this festival started.
The Pi-Puppids meteor shower begins today and ends on the twenty-eighth, peaking on the twenty-third. This is a relatively young stream, only been detected since 1972, and produced by the Comet P/Grigg-Skjellerup. It is best viewed from the southern hemisphere.
The first day of Payni is a Festival of Horus and also for Bast.
This is the fifth day of the Cerealia.
The god Apollo was worshiped by his faithful cult in ancient Greece during an annual festival called the Hiketeria.
On this date in the year 1946, Pagan author Margot Adler was born in Little Rock Arkansas. Her Wiccan handfasting on June 19, 1988, was the first Neo-Pagan Wedding to appear in the New York Times' society pages.
It was customary to begin weeding the crops today.
The 2nd day of Payni is a Holiday of Ra and His Shemsu (followers).
This is the sixth day of the Cerealia.
Dedicated to Machendrana, the ancient and powerful Indian God of rain, an annual religious event called the Chariot Festival of the Rain God is held in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. Beginning today, the festival continues for approximately eight consecutive weeks.
This is the seventh day of the Cerealia.
The Hindu god Rama, seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu, and the goddess Sita are honored with the festival of Rama-Navami, commemorating his royal birth as the first born son of King Dasratha. As part of the celebrations, Hindus tell their favorite stories from his epic poem Ramayana.
This is the eighth and last day of the Cerealia. This is the same as the Thesmophoria of the Greeks.
The Palilia or Parilia honors the goddess Pales and commemorates the day Romulus built his city. Later the Pales were a pair of familial pastoral deities who guarded cattle and sheep. At twilight, shepherds purified their sheep. First the ground was sprinkled with water, then the sheepfold was decorated with leaves and branches with a large garland at the door. The sheep were run through the smoke made by burning pure sulfur while olives and pine and laurel crackled at the hearth. A basket of millet and millet cakes were offer to the goddess with a pail of milk. As these things were offered, the worshipper requested that she look after the health of the livestock and shepherd alike and that he be forgiven for an unknowing trespass against the nature spirits of the area. The shepherd asked that his flock be numerous and their udders always full, that the cheeses from the milk bring him money and the wool of his sheep be soft. With this request he promised that should his prayers be granted, there would be great cakes for Palesevery year. This appeal said four times, facing the east, the shepherd washed his hands in dewy grass. After leaping over a bonfire three times, herdsmen would enjoy a feast in honor of the Pales. In Rome, the festival was celebrated with wine and merriment.
The Foundation of Rome is celebrated today as the Dea Roma or Natalis Urbis Romae. The walls of Rome were built during the festival of Pales. After the second century, Palilia was combined with Dea Roma and was celebrated as her birthday with processions and Circensian games, which continued till the 5th century.
On St. George's Day, a Christian equivalent of the Parilia, Southern Slovenian peasants crowned their cows with wreaths of flowers. Later in the evening, the wreaths were taken from the cows and fastened to the door of the cattle-stall, where they remain throughout the year till the next St. George's Day. St. George's Day is a continuation of an ancient fertility festival in England. He is a version of Bellerophon, slayer of the Chimera, and of Sigurd, the Norse dragon slayer. The Asatru honor Sigurd and their homeland.
The seventh day of Payni is a Feast of Wadjet.
The first Earth Day took place in 1970 as a result of the Ecology Movement. Since then, it has been held each year to help encourage recycling programs, the use of solar energy, and to increase community awareness of important environmental issues. As a day dedicated to Mother Earth, it is a time for witches throughout the world to perform Gaia-healing rituals.
The Lyrids meteor shower began on the sixteenth and will continue till the twenty-fifth. It peaks on or around this day and is associated with the comet Thatcher.
The Vinalia Priora was held in honor of Jupiter and Venus. The wine of the previous year was broached, and a libation from it poured on the grass. Later on August 19th, there was the Vinalia rustica. Astarte, Tanith, Aphrodite, and Venus Erycina were also honored. Myrtle and the mint were offered with bands of rushes hid in clustered roses by woman seeking the goddess' favor.
According to folklore, the ghosts of all men, women, and children destined to pass away in the next year could be seen floating by on this night if a person were brave enough to spend the night awake on the front porch. If they were unfortunate enough to fall asleep during the vigil, or if they failed to repeat it annually for the remainder of their life, they would not wake up again the following morning.
St. Mark's Eve is a night for divining the future. A young woman wishing to discover the identity of her future lover would fast after sunset and make a cake during the night containing an eggshell of salt, wheat meal, and barley meal. Opening the door to her dwelling place, her future husband would enter to turn the cake.
This is Children's Day in Iceland.
St. Mark's Day coincided with the Roman festival of Robigalia. To protect crops from mold, Roman citizens proceeded to a grove outside the city each year and sacrificed a dog and a sheep to Robigus and Robigo (or Rubigo), the god and goddess of mildew. The goddess was asked to gnaw on the iron of swords rather than crops and farming implements because weapons were not needed in a world of peace.
Cuckoo's day heralds the arrival of migratory birds from the south, indicating a return of summer.
In the year 1989, USA Today reported that Patricia Hutchins, a military Wiccan stationed at an air force base in Texas, was granted religious leave by the United States Military in order to observe the eight Sabbats of the Wicca religion. She was the first Wiccan in history to have her religious holidays granted by the U.S. Air Force.
In the Republic of Sierre Leone, New Year's Day is devoted to a seed sowing ceremony designed to appease the goddess of fertility.
The Floralia begins tonight.
The farmers of the Bambara tribe in Mali honor Tyi Wara, a mythical figure, half man and half beast with song and dance. It is that Tyi Wara was sent down to Earth by the gods of nature in order to teach human beings the necessary skills of farming.
Six days of government sanctioned debauchery began today with the Roman festival of Floralia. Originally a feast motivated by the condition of crops and flowers, it is thought to have been created by command of the Sibylline oracle in 238 BCE. Games were instituted in honour of Flora at that time, but were soon discontinued. They were restored in 173 BCE by the consuls L Postumius Albinus and M Popilius Laenas after storms had destroyed the crops and vines.
Flora, originally a Sabine goddess of spring, flowers, and youth, was offered prayers for the ripe fruits of fields and trees. Her husband is Zephyrus, the west wind, and she is the twin sister of Faunus, the god of wild creatures. In later times, she was identified with the Greek goddess Chloris. A temple was built for her at the Circus Maxima between the Aventine and the Palatine hills, and there was a shrine at the Quirinal where stalks of grain were offered.
Men decorated themselves, their animals, and the city with flowers, especially roses. Women put aside their usual clothes and wore festive dresses. The scene was one of unrestrained merriment. Beans and other seeds were planted, representing fecundity. Offerings of milk and honey were made on this day and the surrounding five days, which comprise the Florifertum. Goats and hares were let loose as they represented fertility. Gift-giving for the season included small vegetables as tokens of sex and fertility.
The first five days of the games were theatrical performances. Day and night there were games (ludi Florales), pantomimes, theater and stripteases with people of all classes in their brightest clothes. The courtesans and prostitutes of Rome regarded the day as their own, performing naked in the theater and possibly fought in the gladiatorial arena.
When Augustus became Pontifex Maximus, he built a chapel to Vesta in his own house on the Palatine, and dedicated it on this day, which was made a public holiday.
This is the second day of Floralia.
On Pagan Tree Day, plant a tree dedicated to your favorite god/dess.
This is the third day of Floralia.
The festival of Acca Larentia or Laurentia was held today. Like Ceres, Teilus, Flora and others, Acca Laurentia symbolized the fertility of the earth, in particular the city lands and their crops. Acca Larentia is also identified with Larentina, Mana Genita, and Muta.
It is difficult to determine exactly who she was. According to some, she was the wife of the shepherd Faustulus, and the adoptive mother of Romulus and Remus. She is therefore identified with the Dea Dia. Another tradition holds that Larentia was a beautiful girl during the reign of Ancus Marcius in the 7th century BC. She was awarded to Hercules as a prize in a game of dice and was locked in his temple with his other prize, a feast. When he no longer had need of her, he advised her to marry the first wealthy man she met, who turned out to be an Etruscan named Carutius or Tarrutius. After his death, she inherited all his property and bequeathed it to the Roman people. Thus she was allowed to be buried in the Velabrum and an annual festival was instituted in her honor, at which sacrifices were offered to the Lares. Yet another tradition ties her origins to Romulus and Remus again, stating that she was the prostitute "Lupa," who left the fortune she amassed through sex work to the Roman people. Whatever her origins, it seems clear that she was of Etruscan origin and connected with the worship of the Lares, from which her name may or may not be derived. This relation is also apparent in the number of her sons, which corresponds to that of the twelve "country Lares."
This is Oidhche Bhealtaine, Bealtaine Eve, May Eve, Walpurgis Night, or Cernunnos Dydd (Day of Cernunnos).
In 1990, the Brocken, the German witches' holy mountain, was reclaimed by women's groups.
May Eve is celebrated as the festival of the dead in Portugal and Spain.
Alexander Sanders, the 'King of the Witches' as he became known, was responsible for founding the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca. He died on May eve in 1988.