Life as a Celt meant that you saw life as a circle or cycle. The year passed as a circle just as life was circular. The fire festivals and solar festivals were the same way. As you follow the Celtic year the fire festivals and the solar festivals alternate. The year starts and ends with Samhain. This is why Samhain is the time when the veil between the worlds was the thinnest. The Fire festivals mark the half-way point between the Solar festivals and the year was counted by the lunar cycles.
The year was made up of 13 lunar cycles the same as it is today. The thirteenth month was only three days in duration and was set at Samhain. As the Celtic calendar was seen as cycles the seasons and festivals flowed into each other as a continuing spiral or circle. In modern times, it is often hard to think cyclically but once you start noticing how the season and festivals flow into one another then you can begin to "go with the flow" and it become easier to live and think in "Celtic Time". When you have time, think about how the season flow into each other and then you can begin to see then feel the flow with in and with out.
The Celtic Fire and Solar Festivals are best understood if you visualize them like a clock with 8 numbers evenly spaced. At the number one or West position is Samhain, then at the 2 or North West position is Yule, Then at the 3 or North position is Imbolc, followed around by Spring Equinox, Beltaine, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Fall Equinox then back to Samhain again. So using the following visualization can help you see how time cycles work. Also, celtic festivals followed the harvesting seasons as they were now a farming people and their lives would have revolved around the seasons of tilling, planting, harvesting, and rest. As you visualize the Solar and Fire festivals it helps to keep in mind the planting seasons as well. Even today, as you look to nature it holds the clues to how we should be preparing, planting, harvesting and resting in our own lives.
The Four Fire festivals:
Samhain Midpoint between Autumnal Equinox and Yule Imbolc Midpoint between Yule and Spring Equinox Beltaine Midpoint between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice Lugnassadh or Lammas Midpoint between Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox
The Solar festivals:
Mean Geimhridh or Yule Winter Solstice Mean Earraigh Spring Equinox Mean Samhraidh Summer Solstice Mean Fomhair Fall Equinox
The Celtic Calendar is something altogether different. The Celtic Calendar is a bringing together of the Lunar, Fire and Solar cycles. In our times it includes the now set dates of the Four Fire festivals and all Lunar and Solar events. Other important events on the Celtic Calendar were Lunar and Solar eclispses. They were thought to be heralds of changes coming. Eclipses falling on or near Solar festival or fire festival days were regarded highly. This is also believed by other cultures who marked calendars as well. The druids took a particular interest in heavenly events and saw them as important things to be recorded and watched for.