The Holidays

The Holidays

I. Rationale for the Placement of Holidays:

As we have seen in our column on the Coligny Calendar, Garrett Olmsted translates the word IVOS as “festival”, and finds five major and two minor clusters throughout the year. If the calendar starts at Samhain, or close to it, as we have hypothesized, then we can very roughly place these clusters on the Gregorian Calendar as well. We find that they coincide very roughly with the traditional dates for Samhain, the Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh. From this, we can very tentatively reconstruct a Gaulish ritual year. The meaning of the holidays must be reconstructed from the holidays of the living Celtic peoples, as well as related holidays among other Indo-European cultures, and the traditions of the descendants of the Gauls, who often preserve some very old practices.

II. Trinouxs Samoni:

A. Description: Trinoux Samoni (the Three Nights of Samonios) marks the beginning of the year, as well as the transition from the light half of the year to the dark half, and from autumn to winter. In consequence, it is a festival of great significance. According to Alexei Kondratiev, the themes of this time include renewal, often via a new fire ritual, hospitality for the dead, dissolution, timelessness, and sacrifice. I tend to see it as a time for making offerings to the ancestors, doing divination, and possibly celebrating the death of Maponus in the Sacred Boar Hunt.
B. Appropriate Deities and Spirits: Sucellus, Nantosueltâ, the Ancestors, Cernunnos, and Maponus.
C. Gaulish Date: The first through about the fifth of the dark half of Samonios, or else the second or third of the light half.
D. Gregorian Date: The new moon nearest November 1, or the night after the full moon nearest November 1.

III. Îwos Dumanni:

A. Description: Îwos Dumanni (The Festival of Dummanios, probably the Festival of the Darkest Depths) marks the longest night of the year. This is the darkest and coldest time of the year, when the Eponâ wanders the land, accompanied by a retinue of spirits. The activities of this time of year often include guising and wassailing, in both the modern Celtic countries, and in formerly Gaulish-speaking regions. The midwinter customs in the Alpine countries of Europe, processions of men in grotesque costumes, often horned, suggest that spirits like the Anderoi and Dusioi are also active at this time, as is Cernunnos. In addition, Alexei Kondratiev sees this as the time when Maponus is born as the Child of Promise, only to be taken away shortly after birth. His birth may be celebrated in the manner of Christmas, but probably Eponâ, who may be his mother, is more appropriate to emphasize.
B. Appropriate Deities and Spirits: Eponâ, Cernunnos, Maponus, the Anderoi (to be propitiated, not worshiped), the Dusioi (ditto).
C. Gaulish Date: Around the first day of Dumannios, or else just before the beginning of the light half of Dumannios. The latter, which locates the festival to the Winter Solstice most years, is probably to be preferred, but the calendar varies.
D. Gregorian Date: The new moon nearest December 1, or else the full moon nearest the Winter Solstice.

IV. Îwos Brigantiâs:

A. Description: Îwos Brigantiâs just means “The Festival of Brigantiâ”, and that is exactly what it is. It is the time when she is worshipped and celebrated. We have no evidence as to whether the Gauls used such things as the Irish Brideog, an image of the young Brigid, or as Brigid’s Wheels or Brigid’s Cross for this festival, but they wouldn’t be altogether inappropriate. Probably more appropriate is to just make offering to Brigantiâ in our own ways. This festival is also linked with concepts of purification and may, or may not, be linked with the secular festival of Groundhog Day. Apparently, throughout continental Europe, a bear or badger was believed to come from its den on this day, and to forecast the coming of spring.
B. Appropriate Deities and Spirits: Brigantiâ.
C. Gaulish Date: At the beginning of Anagantios.
D. Gregorian Date: The new moon nearest February 1.

V. Îwos Giamoni:

A. Description: Îwos Giamoni (the Festival of Giamonios, probably, the Festival of Winter’s End) is the beginning of the light half of the year, and the transition from spring to summer. According to Kondratiev, the themes of this time of year include the transforming and purifying fire, as well as the return of Maponos. The Brothers Rees emphasize the themes of dissolution and trickery. According to the folklore of several regions of Europe, the rules of society and sexuality are to some extent suspended. My own celebrations of the festival emphasize the return of Maponus, the fire, and the worship of the land spirits.
B. Appropriate Deities and Spirits: Maponus, The Talamonodonicâ.
C. Gaulish Date: At the beginning of Giamonios.
D. Gregorian Date: The new moon nearest May 1.

VI. Îwos Lugous:

A. Description: Îwos Lugous just means the Festival of Lugus, and that is what it is. It is the festival when the victory of Lugus over the forces of darkness is celebrated, marking the beginning of the harvest season. Kondratiev sees the holiday in terms of several themes: the assembly on a height, the pageant of the triumph of Lugus, the reaping of the first fruits, the racing of horses in water, men and women paired in fertility magic, the burial of flowers to mark the end of summer, and the reaffirmation of the tribe’s order. Generally, my own celebrations just include offerings to Lugus and poems praising him, which appear to be enough to please the Gods.
B. Appropriate Deities and Spirits: Lugus, Rosmertâ.
C. Gaulish Date: The beginning of Elembiuos
D. Gregorian Date: The new moon nearest August 1.

For another different take on a Gaulish ritual calendar, see Jess’ column on the subject on the blog Nemeton Nigromanticos.
For another, based on actual Romano-Gaulish traditions, see the calendar at the excellent blog Deo Mercurio.



  1. On the Iwos Brigantias, it might also be appropriate to determine whether the auspice for the coming Spring is good or not based on what animal one sees first, which seems to have been done in several places in France. If it was a bear, it was good, but if it was a wolf, it was bad, if memory serves….or, I might have that backwards. I can look it up, in any case, if you’re interested.

    Also, I wonder if Iwos Dummanios might have some connection to the Goddess who in Irish is known as Domnu, who is the mother of the Fomoiri and Fir Bolg, and who is connected to depths and darkness…her name would be cognate with Dummanios, in any case.

  2. As always a really wonderful post, Segomaros. As a Brythonic polytheist I find an awful in your work that intrigues me. Thank you for your work. Oh and I have wanted to offer my deepest apologies for being a thorn in your side in your FB group. I know that my social skills left a lot to be desired but I hope that perhaps you and all of the different members can forgive me. I’m something of a changed man these days. Best wishes!

  3. This is really great and informative! Thank you for collecting that much data. I’ll make good use of it.

  4. Excellent piece. Might there be a case for locating the Trinoux Samoni in the Gregorian calendar aound the last quarter of the Moon?