Spring

The Easter Fire is a custom of pagan origin spread all over Europe. It is a symbol of victory, the victory of beautiful and sunny spring over the cold days of winter.

On Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday, in rare occasions also on Easter Monday, large fires are lit at dusk in numerous sections of Northwestern Europe. These regions include Denmark, parts of Sweden as well as in Finland, Northern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

The fire is lit usually on the top of the mountains – Easter mountain, Osterberg – and it is obtained from wood by friction. In Germany, the Easter fire is created by gathering all the Christmas trees and burning them into a huge fire, a sign for everyone to leave behind winter and prepare for spring.

Though not documented before the 16th century, the custom presumably is based on Saxon, pre-Christian traditions, that are still performed each year. There are several explanations of the meaning of these fires. The Saxons believed that around the time of Easter, Spring becomes victorious over Winter. The fires were to help chase the darkness and winter away. It was also a symbol of fertility, which works in a literal sense in that the ashes were scattered over the meadows and thereby fertilized the soil.

The pre-Christian meaning of Easter fires is hardly experienced anymore. Nowadays they are meant to bring the community together, which guarantees a pleasant night combined with the consumption of beer, mulled wine or liquor, and snacks.

Source: Wikipedia

April gets its name from the goddess Aprilis, who is the Romans’ version of Aphrodite. Her name means “to open,” which is exactly what Aprilis does… she opens the path to playfulness and the way to personal enrichment.

We all know the rhyme “April showers bring May flowers.” So consider what energies you want Aprilis to sprinkle on you this month for personal flowering. Overall, any magical efforts aimed toward growth, love, pleasure, improvements, and developing one’s inner child will benefit from working this month.

Because the Christian holiday of Easter sometimes falls in this month, the Anglo-Saxons and Franks called it Easter Month; of course, the word Easter comes originally from the name of the Pagan goddess Eostre, deity of Spring, fertiilty, and new life. The Romans called this month Aprilis, a time of unfolding leaves and flowers.

April was the second month of the Roman calendar, before January and February were added by King Numa Pompilius about 700 BC. It became the fourth month of the calendar year (the year when twelve months are displayed in order) during the time of the decemvirs about 450 BC, when it also was given 29 days April is commonly associated with the season of spring in the Northern hemisphere and autumn in the Southern hemisphere.

Correspondences for April:

  • Nature Spirits: Plant faeries
  • Herbs: Basil, chives, dragons blood, geranium, thistle
  • Colors: Crimson red, gold
  • Flowers: Daisy, sweetpea
  • Scents: Pine, bay, bergamot, patchouli
  • Stones: Ruby, garnet, sard
  • Trees: Pine, bay, hazel
  • Animals: Bear, wolf
  • Birds: Hawk, magpie
  • Deities: Kali, Hathor, Anahita, Ceres, Ishtar, Venus, Bast
  • Birth stone: Diamond
  • Birth flower: Daisy or sweet pea
  • Zodiac Signs: Aries (until April 19) and Taurus (April 20 onwards).

Power Flow:

Energy into creating and producing; return balance to the nerves; change; self confidence; self reliance; take advantage of opportunities; work on temper and emotional flare-ups and selfishness.

April Festivities:

“It was that period in the vernal quarter when we may suppose the Dryads to be waking for the season. The vegetable world begins to move and swell and the saps to rise, till in the completest silence of lone gardens and trackless plantations, where everything seems helpless and still after the bond and slavery of frost, there are bustlings, strainings, united thrusts, and pulls-all-together, in comparison with which the powerful tugs of cranes and pulleys in a noisy city are but pygmy efforts.”
~Thomas Hardy

The Megalesia of Cybele, who was also known as Magna Mater (Great Mother) in both Phyrgia and Rome, celebrated the arrival of this goddess in Rome. In 204 BCE, Rome was in the midst of a great war with Hannibal. Things were going very badly for the Roman legions. Finally, the Romans sent a delegation to the Oracle at Delphi for an interpretation of their sacred Sibylline Books. This passage said that foreing invaders could only be driven away when the Mother of Mount Ida was transferred from Pessinus to Rome.

The oracle sent the delegation to the king of Pergamum in Asia Minor, where they were told that a black meteroite embodying the spirit of Cybele was. Pine trees from Mt. Ida, sacred to the goddess, were made into a ship, and the stone was transported from one sanctuary to another until it reached Rome. In about a year, Hannibal left Italy forever.

The Japanese Flower Festival has now become a celebration of Buddha’s birth. In the older celebration, however, the people gathered wildflowers for the family shrine. Those in the Shinto faith placed wooden markers on the graves and said prayers.

The Roman festival of Cerealia celebrated the return of Proserpina to the Earth goddess Ceres. Our word “cereal” comes from the name Ceres. It was the time of planting grain. Ceres was the Roman equivalent to the Greek goddess Demeter.The festival of Cerealia was held for seven days from mid-to-late April, but exact dates are uncertain.

Feriae Latinae was also held in April, with the date varying. Other ancient Roman observances include Veneralia, Fordicidia, Parilia, Vinalia Urbana, Robigalia, and Serapia.

The Egyptians called their land Khemennu, or Land of the Moon. Plutarch wrote that they believed the Moon to be the Mother of the Universe. Although the goddess Bast was primarily considered to be a deity of the gentle Sun, she was also connected with the Moon.

Floralia was held April 27 during the Republican era, or April 28 on the Julian calendar, and lasted until May 3. However, these dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar. The Floralia is still celebrated in many Central and Eastern European countries. It is a time to honor the goddess of flowers. People dress in gaily decorated costumes and wear flowers in their hair. Secretly delivering baskets of flowers on May Day is a remnant of this old festival.

During this month was also the Incan Ayrihua or Camay Inca Raymi, the Festival of the Inca.

April Weather Lore

It is said that if early April is foggy,
rain in June will make lanes boggy.

April weather:
rain and sunshine, both together.

April showers bring May flowers.

A dry April
Not the farmer’s will.
April wet
Is what he would get.

“If it rains on Easter Sunday,
it will rain on the next seven Sundays.”

More April Lore:

St George’s day is the twenty-third of the month; and St Mark’s Eve, with its superstition that the ghosts of those who are doomed to die within the year will be seen to pass into the church, falls on the twenty-fourth.

In China the symbolic ploughing of the earth by the emperor and princes of the blood took place in their third month, which frequently corresponds to April. In Finnish April is huhtikuu, meaning slash-and-burn moon, when gymnosperms for beat and burn clearing of farmland were felled.

In Slovene, the most established traditional name is mali traven, meaning the month when plants start growing.

The month Aprilis had 30 days; Numa Pompilius made it 29 days long; finally Julius Caesar’s calendar reform made it again 30 days long, which was not changed in the calendar revision of Augustus Caesar in 8 BC.

The Lyrids meteor shower appears on April 16-April 26 each year, with the peak generally occurring on April 22. Eta Aquariids meteor shower also appears in April. It is visible from about April 21 to about May 20 each year with peak activity on or around May 6. The Pi Puppids appear on April 23, but only in years around the parent comet’s perihelion date. The Virginids also shower at various dates in April.

From: Moon Magick and various other sources

The Megalisia was a Phrygian festival in honor of Cybele, the Magna Mater. This was a festival with games celebrated at Rome in the month of April and in honor of the great mother of the gods. Following the advice of the Sibylline oracle on how to end the Punic wars, the meteorite which represented Cybele was brought from Phrygia to Rome in 204 BCE where it was installed in the Temple of victory on April 4th. The day of its arrival was solemnized with a magnificent procession, lectisternia, and games, and great numbers of people carried presents to the goddess at the Capitol.

The following harvest was great and the war ended the next year.

The regular celebration of the Megalesia, however, did not begin until about a dozen years later, when the temple which had been vowed and ordered to be built in 203 B.C., was completed and dedicated by M. Iunius Brutus.

The Romans began the celebrations with a parade, in which an image of the Goddess, Cybele, was carried through the streets in a chariot drawn by lions, her animals. The castrated priests who served her danced alongside, playing timbrels and cymbals and gashing themselves. Lucretius says “with bronze and silver they strew all the paths of her journey … and snow rose-blossoms over her.”Rome, commemorating the arrival of the goddess to her Roman Temple.”

The festival lasted for six days, beginning on the 4th of April. The season of this festival, like that of the whole month in which it took place, was full of general rejoicings and feasting. It was customary for the wealthy Romans on this occasion to invite one another mutually to their repasts, and the extravagant habits and the good living during these festive days were probably carried to a very high degree. For that reason, a senatusconsultum was issued in 161 B. C., prescribing that no one should go beyond a certain extent of expenditure.

The games which were held at the Megalesia were purely scenic, and not circenses. They were at first held on the Palatine in front of the temple of the goddess, but afterwards also in the theaters.

The first ludi scenici at Rome were, according to Valerius Antias, introduced at the Megalesia, either in 193 or 191 b.c. The day which was especially set apart for the performance of scenic plays was the third of the festival.

Slaves were not permitted to be present at the games, and the magistrates appeared dressed in a purple toga and praetexta, whence the proverb, purpura Megalensis. The games were under the superintendence of the Curule Aediles, and we know that four of the extant plays of Terence were performed at the Megalesia. Cicero, probably contrasting the games of the Megalesia with the more rude and barbarous games and exhibitions of the circus, calls them maxime casti, solemnes, religiosi.

Source: Nova Roma and Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Note:

The book, 365 Goddess, describes this festival as a Roman Festival celebrating the accuracy of the Sibylline oracles, who predicted the way for the Roman victory in the Punic Wars. Her suggestions for celebrating this ancient festival is as follows:

  • Themes: Divination, Protection, Victory, Children, Birth, Communication.
  • Symbols: The written word, Divination tools, Fertility symbols.
  • Rulers: The Carmenae.

The Carmenae is a group of goddesses who correspond to the Muses of Greek tradition; they know our past, see what’s in store in the future, foretell children’s fates, and teach us the effective use of “letters” (the alphabet), the arts, and how to tell fortunes. They also oversee midwives.

Romans traditionally honored the goddesses today with music and song, so put on some magical tunes! The Carmenae will saturate the music and uplift your spirit.

Ask the Carmenae to help you write personalized invocations or spells today. Put pen to pad and let these goddesses inspire sacred words suited to your path and needs. Keep these in a magick journal for future use.

The Roman oracles often drew lots to determine a querent’s answer. If you have a question weighing heavily on your heart today, follow this custom and take out some variegated beans. Hold them. Concentrate on the question, then pick out one bean. A black one means “no”; white means “yes.” Red means that anger is driving action, brown means things are muddled, and green indicates growth potential. If you don’t have the beans, colored buttons or beads are a suitable alternative.

Also known as: Oestre, Easter, the Spring Equinox, Vernal (Spring) Equinox, Alban Eiler (Caledonii), Méan Earraigh

  • March 20 – 23 Northern Hemisphere
  • September 20 – 23 Southern Hemisphere

This is the official return of the young Goddess after her Winter hibernation. As with the other Equinox and the Solstices, the date of this festival may move slightly from year to year, but many will choose to celebrate it on 21 March.

The Spring Equinox is the point of equilibrium – when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. The balance is suspended just before spring bursts forth from winter. Night and day are of equal length at the equinox, the forces of male and female are also in balance. Ostara is a festival of balance and fertility.

In keeping with the balance of the Equinox, Oestara is a time when we seek balance within ourselves. It is a time for throwing out the old and taking on the new. We rid ourselves of those things which are no longer necessary – old habits, thoughts and feelings – and take on new ideas and thoughts. This does not mean that you use this festival as a time for berating yourself about your ‘bad’ points, but rather that you should seek to find a balance through which you can accept yourself for what you are.

It is also a celebration of birth and new life. A day when death has no power over the living.

Spring has arrived, and with it comes hope and warmth. Deep within the cold earth, seeds are beginning to sprout. In the damp fields, the livestock are preparing to give birth. In the forest, under a canopy of newly sprouted leaves, the animals of the wild ready their dens for the arrival of their young. Spring is here.

It is no coincidence that the name for this sabbat sounds similar to the word ‘Easter’. Eostre, or Ostara, is an Anglo-Saxon Dawn Goddess whose symbols are the egg and the hare. She, in turn, is the European version of the Goddess Ishtar or Astarte, whose worship dates back thousands of years and is certainly pre-Christian. Eostre also lives on in our medical language in the words ‘oestrous’ (the sexual impulse in female animals) and ‘oestrogen’ (a female hormone).

Today, Oestara is celebrated as a spring festival. Although the Goddess put on the robes of Maiden at Imbolg, here she is seen as truly embodying the spirit of spring. By this time we can see all around us the awakened land, the leaves on the trees, the flowers and the first shoots of corn.

There is some debate as to whether Oestara or Imbolg was the traditional time of spring cleaning, but certainly the casting out of the old would seem to be in sympathy with the spirit of this festival and the increased daylight at this time encourages a good clean out around the home.

The Easter Bunny also is of Pagan origin, as are baskets of flowers. Brightly colored eggs represent the child within.

Traditionally, Ostara is a time for collecting wildflowers, walking in nature’s beauty and cultivating herb gardens. Half fill a bowl with water and place a selection of flowers into it for display in a prominent position in your home.

This is the time to free yourself from anything in the past that is holding you back.

Sources: varied

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underworld and cover
blossom by blossom the spring begins.
~Algernon Charles Swinburne

Méan Earraigh marks the spring equinox, when night and day are of equal length and spring officially begins. Birds begin their nesting and egg-laying, and eggs–symbolic of rebirth, fertility, and immortality–are tossed into fresh furrows or eaten by ploughmen. They are also carried by those engaged in spring planting.

A charming custom is painting eggs with symbols and pictures of what one wishes to manifest in the coming year. The eggs can then be buried in the Earth Mother, who hears the cries and dreams of her children. In some communities, eggs are hidden in the stores of seed grain and left there all season to bless the sowing and encourage the seeds to sprout. Dressed as mummers, “pace-eggers” go from house to house and demand eggs and coins in return for a short performance. Men and women exchange clothing for the show.

The eggs given to the pace-eggers have been wrapped in leaves, roots, flowers, and bark before boiling, to impart color. Later the eggs are used in games, such as attempting to strike an opponent’s legs. The eggs might be hidden or rolled down hillsides, after which they are eaten. Blood, ashes from sacred fires, fistfuls of salt, or handfuls of soil from a high mountaintop are scattered on the newly sown fields.

Offerings of food and milk are left for the faeries and other spirits who live in and around rocks and are responsible for the fertility of the land. A few fruits from the previous year’s harvest are left for the nature spirits. Sacred hilltops are visited, and picnics of figs, fig cakes, cider and ale are enjoyed. The figs are symbolic of fertility, the leaf being the male element and the fruit the female.

You can also celebrate the arrival of spring with flowers. Bring them into your own home and give them to others. You do not have to spend a lot of money – one or two blooms given for no other reason than ‘spring is here’ can often bring a smile to even the most gloomy face.

A traditional Vernal Equinox pastime is to go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers (thank the flowers for their sacrifice before picking them). Or, buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their Magickal meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum, this post on the Magickal Meanings of Flowers, or by other means. The flowers you’ve chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions.

In the druidic tradition, Aengus Og is the male deity of the occasion. Son of In Dagda and Boand, he was conceived and born while Elcmar, Boand’s husband, was under enchantment. When three days old, Aengus was removed to be fostered by Midir, god of the Otherworld mound at Bri Leith, with his three hostile cranes. These birds guarded the mound and prevented the approach of travelers, and were said to cause even warriors to turn and flee.

Make an Altar to Ostara.

Ostara, the ancient German Virgin Goddess of Spring, loves bright colors. The light pastels of spring are perfect offerings for Ostara. To represent earth on your altar, choose bright or pastel colored stones like Rose Quartz, Amethyst, or any of the Calcites (blue, red, yellow, or green). If you have some Citrine, be sure to include it. Citrine has long been an aid for mental clarity.

By including an offering of colored eggs on your altar, you will be taking part in an ancient tradition (still performed!) by the Germanic people. Ostara has been honored this time of year with painted eggs for centuries.

To symbolize fertility, in addition to the eggs, you can include seeds or rice on your altar. I like to use rice as a symbol for fertility on my altars.

Incense and feathers are perfect symbols for air on your altar. It is important for Ostara’s altar that you include a symbol for air because Ostara herself is the living symbol for Air. (This must be the way Ostara and Easter became associated with birds, i.e. chickens) Be sure to burn incense at your altar when you are dedicating it to bring in the energy and vibrational qualities of Ostara.

The perfect time to dedicate your altar is at dawn. Choose a day, then plan to dedicate your altar to Ostara at dawn’s first light by lighting incense and repeating an invocation to her as well as a prayer of thanksgiving for all that Ostara symbolizes in your life:

  • A clear mind.
  • New beginnings.
  • Personal renewal.
  • Fertility, either for the purpose of bearing a child or for creativity such as arts and crafts, writing, or decorating.

You can include anything you like on your altar to Ostara. You will know by how you feel if an item is appropriate or not. I believe it is important to include symbols for the four elements on my altars. The four elements are Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. The four Calcites on my altar (red/fire, green/earth, yellow/air, and blue/water) represent Mother Earth and the four elements. I have added feathers and other items that symbolize Ostara to my altar as offerings to her.

Last, but not least, it might be nice to include a figure of a rabbit. The rabbit is Ostara’s power animal. I am sure this is because of their propensity for fertility.

Sources:

59

March 4th was the Greek festival of the Anthesteria, which was a celebration of flowers and dedicated to Flora. To celebrate this Spring festival of flowers, buy fresh flowers for your home. If you have house plants, repot and fertilize them. Burn a flowery incense, such as jasmine, rose or honeysuckle. Wear pastel colors to represent the delicate shades of the new Spring blossoms. Place a pretty bowl of fresh water on your altar and float a light flower in it.

When the moon is up, go to your altar and light a white candle. Sit in the darkness with only the candlelight. Look at the floating flower and think about the wonderful powers of Nature that bring the flowers back year after year. Contemplate the way this power touches your own life.

Feel your “roots” sinking deep down into the Earth, from which you can draw sustaining energy. Feel the energy being fed back to you. Now, reach your arms upward toward the Moon. Feel its energies adding to those of the Earth. Let these energies swirl around and through you, cleansing, healing, balancing. To break the flow, place both hands on the floor. Let the energies sink back into the Earth.

From: Moon Magick

“You’re right to come, Marcher; your days demand their place
and the month that bears your stamp is here.”
~Ovid

Mars

March (Martius), the first month of the lunar calendar, was named after Mars and the entire month was dedicated to Him. The festivals reflected a purification and regeneration of the arms and fields, marking a time when farmers had to think of cultivating and protecting their lands. The efficacy of Mars’ divine aid was much needed in preparation for the seasonal crop growth and upcoming military campaigns, as wars often began or were renewed in the spring.

March 1st was the lunar calendar’s New Year’s Day, and may have also been Mars’ birthday. The festival of Quinquatrus (named for its length of five consecutive days) commenced on 19 March when the ancilia of the Salii and the weapons of the whole army were purified.

On 23 March, the Romans venerated Mars during the Tubilustrium, a cleansing ceremony for the trumpets used in sacred rites and the instruments of the entire army. A subsequent purification rite was performed on 19 October during the Armilustrium, and the Salii, commemorating the return of the legions in the fall, made their final procession through the streets of Rome. It signified the end of the military campaign season when arma (arms) and ancilia were purified and laid to rest for the winter.

How do we relate to Mars this month?

With Mars, there is no contemplation before action. The drive associated with Mars differs from that of the Sun in that it is self-assertion rather than assertion of the will; it is raw energy rather than creative energy.

Mars is still the essence of the god from antiquity. He is still the captivating aggressor, the rouser, and the protagonist of destiny; breathtakingly candid in His purpose and deliberate in His bounty. Mars personifies a vigorous energy that carries with it its own reproductive weight, immersed in singular ambition, and seldom outdone. He is the quintessential model of male sexuality; the catalyst for creation Who leaves little doubt that our perpetuation is imminent and our survival inevitable. Yet His artful passion is lucid; a flowing expression steeped in honorific intent and delivered with remarkably unbiased conveyance.

The expression of our basic needs remains the one true constant among all living beings. When we peel back the layers of aspirations and ideals, we reach the crux of the human race with uncanny fidelity; the instinctual drives that have served us so well. It is here, at this center that we find Mars, ceaselessly reminding us that no matter how far we venture from this place, the road back is always nearer than we realize.

How do we honor Mars this month?

Mars represents the instinctive nature still evident in all species: that of survival and protection. In antiquity, Mars’ reigning aspects were interwoven into a society that understood a definable application of pursuit and preservation. The Romans recognized the necessity of this sequence as the occurring truth behind any deliberate progress. These enduring principles are at the very heart of Perpituitas; qualities attributed to our role as the caretakers of our posterity.

In His warrior aspect we associate Mars with iron, but an iron will is of the same caliber. Protection has always been our gift to those we love, and a duty to ourselves. Though we no longer spend our days in the fields, the fruits of our labors still determine the quality of our life.

Pray to Mars when you need to shift into another gear, to bring your purpose from wishful pondering to fruition and culmination. Look to Mars when your spirit needs reawakening and you find yourself lost in the cycle of delay, needing to summon up the courage to act. When the mundane begins to chisel your determination into quiet resignation, let Mars hear your call to arms. His still powerful voice speaks volumes to all who listen. Mars continues to provoke and ignite while craftily providing us with His earthly wisdom; those universal gifts of our own nature which allow us to fully embrace our life’s experience and remain secure in our duration.

Source: Religioromana

According to archeological evidence from 2nd century A.D. Maslenitsa may be the oldest surviving Slavic holiday. Maslenitsa has its origins in the pagan tradition. In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun-festival, personified by the ancient god Volos, and a celebration of the imminent end of the winter. In the Christian tradition, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of Great Lent.

During the week of Maslenitsa, meat is already forbidden to Orthodox Christians, and it is the last week during which eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products are permitted, leading to its name of “Cheese-fare week” or “Crepe week”. The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is bliny thin pancakes or crepes, made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox tradition that week: butter, eggs and milk. Here’s a recipe: Classic Krasnye Blini

Since Lent excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from spiritual life, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to take part in social activities that are not appropriate during the more prayerful, sober and introspective Lenten season.

In some regions, each day of Maslenitsa had its traditional activity:

Monday:
Monday may be the welcoming of “Lady Maslenitsa”. The community builds the Maslenitsa effigy out of straw (из соломы), decorated with pieces of rags, and fixed to a pole formerly known as Kostroma. It is paraded around and the first pancakes may be made and offered to the poor.

Tuesday:
On Tuesday, young men might search for a fiancée to marry after lent.

Wednesday:
On Wednesday sons-in-law may visit their mother-in-law who has prepared pancakes and invited other guests for a party.

Thursday:
Thursday may be devoted to outdoor activities. People may take off work and spend the day sledding, ice skating, snowball fights and with sleigh rides.

Friday:
On Friday sons-in-law may invite their mothers-in-law for dinner.

Saturday: Saturday may be a gathering of a young wife with her sisters-in-law to work on a good relationship.

Sunday:
Relatives and friends ask each other for forgiveness and might offer them small presents. As the culmination of the celebration people gather to “strip Lady Maslenitsa of her finery” and burn her in a bonfire. Left-over pancakes may also be thrown into the fire and Lady Maslenitsa’s ashes are buried in the snow to “fertilize the crops”.

Found at: Wikipedia

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Đurđevdan is a major holiday for Roma from former Yugoslavia, whether Orthodox or Muslim. The various Balkan spellings (Herdeljez, Erdelezi) are variants of the Turkish Hıdırellez.

Ederlezi is the Gypsy name for the Bulgarian and Serbian Feast of Saint George. It’s celebrated on the 6th May, a holiday signaling the beginning of spring, occurring approximately 40 days after the spring equinox. This Spring festival is especially celebrated by Roma people around the former Yugoslavia (and elsewhere around the world), regardless of religious affiliation.

This holiday celebrates the return of springtime and is considered most important. The traditions of the Roma Durđevdan are based on decorating the home with flowers and blooming twigs as a welcoming to spring. It also includes taking baths added with flowers and washing hands with water from church wells. Also the walls of the home could be washed with the water. On the day of the feast it is most common to grill a lamb for the feast dinner. The appearance of music is also very important during this holiday. Aside from dancing and singing, traditional Brass bands are popular.

Đurđevdan in Serbian, Gergyovden in Bulgarian or Jurjevo in Croatian and Bosnian, “George’s day”, is a South-Slavic religious holiday, celebrated on April 23 by the Julian calendar (May 6 by Gregorian calendar). The feast of Saint George is attached to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of spring, and is a very important Orthodox Christian custom of honoring a family patron saint.

Saint George is one of the most important Christian saints in Orthodox churches. Christian tradition holds that St. George was a martyr who died for his faith. On icons, he is usually depicted as a man riding a horse and killing a dragon. Jurjevo is mainly celebrated in the rural areas of Croatia, mostly Turopolje and Gornja Stubica whereas every Đurđevdan is celebrated in many Serbian communities, but mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina. In Croatian St. George is called Sv. Juraj while in Serbian he’s called Sveti Đorđe and in Bulgarian- Sveti Georgi.

In Croatia, the Catholic version of St.George’s day, Jurjevo is celebrated on April 23 by the Gregorian calendar. The tradition is mostly celebrated in northern Croatia, in Zagreb County. According to tradition this day marks the beginning of spring. The use of bonfires is similar to Walpurgis Night. In Turopolje, Jurjevo involves a slavic tradition where five most beautiful girls are picked to play as Dodola goddesses dressed in leaves and sing for the village every day till the end of the holiday.

Source: Wikipedia
See also: Ederlezi at Gypsy Magick and Lore

 

Hidrellez

Hidrellez (celebrated on May 6th) is a very significant day, not only for gypsies. It’s been very significant in Anatolia for centuries. The word itself is the combination of names of two prophets: Hizir and Ilyas. Hidrellez signifies a rebirth of nature and is also considered to be the beginning of summer. It is said that whatever you wish for that night comes true!

According to Anatolian people’s beliefs, Hizir and Ilyas are two prophets who drank from the fountain of youth; they are brothers and friends. They have given each other promise to meet on this night of May 5 every year to give rebirth to nature. Hizir is the protector of plants; he gives life to plants. He helps poor people. Wherever he goes, he brings abundance. Ilyas is the protector of waters and according to some, the protector of animals. Wherever he goes, animals become healthier.

People believe that wishes made on this night will come true. They also believe that sick people will become healthier and it will be the end of bad luck and misfortunes. There are also a lot of rituals that people perform.

Some people put a coin inside a red cloth and then hang it on a rose branch. In the morning this money is put into the wallet so that it will bring abundance. It is also believed that if you go out, have a picnic and be in nature on this day, your days in winter will have less hardship. Most city people know this day simply as a picnic day.

Although it is commonly celebrated everywhere in Turkey, its mood is more festive among the Roma community. Apart from Edirne, Istanbul also hosts a major celebration by the Romanis in the historic Ahırkapı district, which was marked with a parade of community members in extravagant and colorful costumes.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

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I think it's time to go shopping... maybe even buy some really cool stuff at my online shops!!