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Thread: A Heathen Calendar?

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    A Heathen Calendar?

    L and I have been talking a LOT about what we want to do in terms of holidays with our kids lately. In addition to the regular American holidays, we plan on spending a little bit of time talking about celebrations from other cultures: Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan in the fall, for example.

    We seem to have hit an impasse, however, when it comes to trying to figure out *what*, exactly, the Norse and Germanic peoples celebrated. Asatru calendars (examples[url=http://odinsvolk.ca/O.V.A.%20-%20SACRED%20CALENDER.htm] here[/url2], here and here) seem to vary dramatically in content and intent based on the individual group in question.

    I can't fault them for that...they are building a tradition that works for them, personally. A great deal of the content, though, often seems to be a meshing of Norse content with Celtic-influenced sources (particularly things like dividing the year into quarters).

    On the other hand, in this article, the Viking answer lady claims that the Norse broke up the year into three seasons, not four, which makes sense in a very cold climate like Scandinavia (or, say, Idaho ). In her research, the beginning of winter was celebrated in what is now October, Yule celebrations were most likely moved from January to December to sync up with Christianity, and the beginning of spring was celebrated in May or June.

    All in all, it seems to me that there wasn't so much attention to a solar or lunar calendar as there was in other places. It makes me wonder whether the focus was an event, rather then a day(for example, the first snowfall).

    This makes me rather curious what others on here do in terms of holidays, if anything at all. Do you celebrate based on a specific date? Do you follow a quarter year calendar, or a three season model? Do you celebrate privately, without any specific link to season, and otherwise simply observe traditional cultural holidays?

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    Sr. Member Gunnarr's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    There are only three recorded times for when a gathering would take place, I being a Gođi of my own hearth organise 12 events per year, this is because we have our local customs and history.

    The three historically remembered as recorded in Ynglinga saga,

    Sigr bloat/ Summer finding (held on a date between the spring equinox and 1st May)
    Winter Finding (held on a date between the autumn equinox and 1st November)
    Yule (starts following mothers night on or around the 20th Dec)
    Gunnarr Sandisson
    "A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be." Albert Einstein
    Five Boroughs Hearth

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    Supporter Thjoth's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    Gunnarr's got it, I don't think I can really add anything. It can be presumed that most, if not all, of the major historical holidays are recorded, just because they're...well...major. However, it can also be presumed that there were likely a number of local holidays, feasts, and customs that were unique to specific areas. So, as far as your holidaymaking goes, my advice would be to try to hit the major ones Gunnarr has outlined, and then have a few of your own events scattered through the year as well, if you want.
    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others."
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    Let a man never stir on his road a step
    without his weapons of war;
    for unsure is the knowing when the need shall arise
    of a spear on the way without.
    -Hávamál

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    Thanks guys! I appreciate it

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    Sr. Member Wednesday's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    Heathenry wasn't a pan-Germanic 'religion', so there really won't be an organized calendar of festivals and holidays. Tribes honored different gods and goddesses, and had different expressions of culture, depending on their community and traditions. There also wasn't much of a lunar or solar cult like we think of with the wiccan wheel, so understanding why holidays were celebrated goes a long way in adapting something of your own. Yule, for example, wasn't a celebration that marked the passage of the sun so much as it was a natural response to the environment: field and water sources were frozen so farming and fishing would be out, and there's really not much else to do other than eat, drink, and be merry. This is why there are so many discrepancies between the dates; it wasn't meant to correlate to the solstice or a particular event. It just happened organically.

    Deciding on a day that has some value and meaning to your family and community is as heathen as you get when it comes to celebrating. If your town has an Apple Blossom festival and you join in the festivities then that's a heathen day. If you go to the Winter Parade and make merry, same thing. It's all about establishing frith and right relationships to your kith and kin. You'll also be mindful of the agents you feel are at work, and give them their own recognition.

    Researching the many idols andfoods/beverages and games that were often included and bringing them into your traditions might help in establishing a connection to the history and your ancestors, but there isn't anything you're doing improperly or missing out on when it comes to not observing a strict calendar. Heathenry is homegrown, its local, its about the people, the gods, and the land and how they interact meaningfully.

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    Thanks for that, Wednesday...that really seems to back up where I've been going with this, based on what I've been seeing.

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    Sr. Member Wednesday's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    Another thing I should probably mention is cultic practices, which can be seasonal even if they're not necessarily holidays. It's customary in Germany during the winter season/Twelve Nights to leave food uncovered in the kitchen for Perchta and her ladies.of abundance. They'll eat the offerings while never depleting them and in return bless you with plenty in the coming year. They only enter well-kept homes, though, and punish those who haven't maintained their household duties. Fasting cakes were another practice associated with Perchta on certain nights, and if you ate anything other than her foods she would cut open your stomach and fill it with rocks and hay. Leaving a bowl of oats out for Sleipnir is another practice during the winter/ wild hunt/ harvest that cane be added to your traditions, as well as making Frey boar shaped pastries. So, basically, looking at those cultural customs can add to your seasonal celebrations as well as the focus on dated holidays.

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: A Heathen Calendar?

    It's funny you mention the oats thing...years and years ago, my MIL latched onto the idea of "Shoe Day" in early December(leaving hay in the shoes for the wise men's camels). I tracked that tradition down this year because we didn't want to toss it entirely, and so on the night of the 8th, we left hay for Sleipnir! My kids loved it, and I think they got more out of it then they ever did before.

    I hadn't heard of the Frey boar pastries before, I'm going to need to look into that. We do things for St. Lucia day, though, and since it's ripe with solar imagery and her little pastries are sometimes referred to as kattr it opened up dialogue about Sunna, as well as Freya with her cats and associated fertility and fecundity wishes.

    It sounds like I need to find more information about Perchta, too. I've only ever heard that name linked to the name Frau Holda, and a couple of concepts like the Wild Hunt and the Krampus or Perchts as creatures to encourage the children to behave. What you're mentioning is new to me.

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