The word Sabbat comes from the Greek work "sabatu", which means "to rest".
The Sabbats are representative of the turning of the wheel and each honor different phases in the life cycle of the Goddess and the God.
It is interesting to note that the eight Sabbats now known to modern Western pagans used to number only five: Bealtain, Midsummer, Lughnasadh, Samhain, and Yule.
Some commonly mentioned dates were February 1 (to some February 2), May 1 (Great Sabbat, Walpurgis Night), August 1 (lammas), November 1 (Halloween, commencing on October 30's eve), Easter, and Christmas. Other less frequently mentioned dates were Good Friday, January 1 (day of Jesus' circumcision), June 23 (St. John's Day), December 21 (St. Thomas), and Corpus Christi. and others.
The modern Sabbats that many Wiccans and NeoPagans now follow are: Imbolc (February 2), Ostara (Spring Equinox), Beltane (May 1), Litha (Summer Solstice), Lammas (August 1), Mabon (Autumn Equinox), Samhain (October 31) and Yule (Winter Solstice).
According to the testimonies of benandanti and similar European groups (see below), common dates for gatherings of witches are during the weeks of the Ember days, during the twelve days of Christmas or at Pentecost.
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The Witches Sabbat