1 January – Old and New
This is an opportunity for people to welcome the new year and it is seen as a new beginning, a chance for a new start. During the day people dress up in costumes and visit their neighbors to sing silly songs or perform comical skits. The festivities go late into the night as people gather together to have parties and toast to a happy and healthy year to come.
14 February – Reckoning Day
This marks the supposed date of the Reckoning in 703. This was a mass Reckoning following a Hycathic uprising against the Catholic Church led by Waldedrudis. It remained the most notorious until the Reckoning of the Blomgren sisters in YE 755, during the aftermath of the Second Hycath War. It is a day for reflection and making amends, during which feuding families are traditionally encouraged to bury past enmities. In some communities this involves the ritual burial of a symbolic token.
Currently, Hycathism is very much a minority religion, but 14 February is still a public holiday. The traditional rites of remembrance are mostly practised by members of the Hycathic faith for whom it is a solemn, religious occasion. The rites are not widely practised by those who aren’t members of the faith.
21 March – Ostara
Held on the Spring Equinox – when light and dark are of equal lengths – and taking its roots from pagan worship of Eostre, the goddess of spring, Ostara began as a way to welcome in the warmer months. Great feasts were held, offering sacrifices to Hecate to give thanks for her help in surviving the harsh winter months. Teams would compete to find and dig up mandrake roots, using dogs to sniff them out. The winning team would be crowned Lords and Ladies of Light and given symbolic charge of the rest of the day’s celebrations. The mandrake roots would be painted by children to symbolise Hecate’s army and then placed above doorways to protect the dwellings.
The whole community would join together in feasting and finishing the remains of the winter stores. One of the central components of this feast would be a wine distilled from the juice of the mandrake, which had mild hallucinogenic qualities.
In modern times, Ostara is mainly an excuse to eat and drink, but many Hycathic followers still paint mandrake roots and offer prayers to Hecate, whilst mandrake wine is popular, especially amongst young people.
21 June – Litha
Litha falls on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Traditionally, people would gather at the Hycathic Temple before dawn to watch the sun rise behind the first pillar. This was celebrated with music and dancing. Dedicated followers of Hycathism would then spend the day in reflection, thinking about their past, present and future, as represented by the three faces of Hecate. At sunset, they would exchange gifts which represented these three states.
Nowadays, for most people it is mainly about gift giving and the gifts are not necessarily representative of anything. It has become usual that a concert is held at the fall of darkness, with performances from local musicians and well-known bands.
8 August – Hecate’s Day (Birth of the Hycathae)
The number eight is of great significance in Hycathism, so the eighth day of the eighth month is the most sacred day of the year, marking the symbolic beginning of the religion when Hecate descended to the underworld and brought forth the first Hycathae. For followers, the day begins at 8 a.m. with a ceremony in the Temple. This is followed by an eight-hour period in which the faithful are required to perform one act representative of each of the Eight Pillars, per hour. Following this, they eat a small meal centred around the eight original locations of the Nyridiae. These acts have become largely symbolic, but are still strictly observed. The day ends with a second Temple ceremony at 8 p.m.
21 September – Harvest Festival
This is a celebration of the harvest. It is traditional for all farmers to donate a portion of their yield to the Hycathic Temple, which then distributes the food to the poor and needy in the community. Nowadays, the festival centres around a farmers’ market and funfair, with the festival culminating in communal feasting where libations are offered to Hecate in thanks for a successful harvest. It is a day for families and communities to come together and relax, knowing that there will be enough food for the winter months.
30 November – Crosaire
Crosaire is the Hycathic celebration of the dead and of ancestors. It is a time to remember loved ones who have passed on to the underworld and to pray to Hecate to help those trapped in Tartarus. Families journey into the forest to visit the trees of their deceased loved ones. Bonfires are lit to keep the ancestors warm and families gather around them to bring back the dead through remembrance and storytelling.
As night falls, lights are lit to represent the spirits of the dead. These are then taken home in a procession, symbolically carrying the ancestors home. Once at home, this light is used to ignite further decorative lights which will adorn dwellings in the run up to Yule.
21 December – Yule
Taking place on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, Yule is a time to gather with loved ones. Rites are observed in the Temple at sunrise and sunset, between which it is a day for visiting and celebrating family and togetherness. Traditionally, houses are decorated with holly and berries, the infinity symbol that represents Hycathism and the multiple lights which have been growing since Crosaire. These now blaze brightly to ward off the darkness. After an evening feast in the beautifully decorated rooms, families take the Crosaire light outside to light a brazier or campfire. Songs are sung and stories are told, with groups of singers and storytellers travelling around the community, visiting older and isolated people, while those without families often meet up to create a Yule family. It is ensured that no one is left out of the celebrations.
At midnight, there are fireworks. These are often organised by the town or village council, but some people choose to have their own. The Crosaire braziers and campfires are then left burning overnight until they die down naturally, symbolising the ancestors’ return to the underworld. The rest of the decorative lights are traditionally taken down the following day, but many people leave them up until New Year’s Day.